A day after the Enforcement Directorate detected cash deposits totaling over Rs 104 crore in an account belonging to her party, Bahujan Samaj Party supremo Mayawati said on Tuesday that “every penny” was deposited in a bank account and not stashed in her office or at home.
At a hurriedly convened news conference in Lucknow, the BSP leader was at her combative best as she accused the ruling BJP and Prime Minister Narendra Modi of “misusing power and maligning the image” of her party ahead of crucial elections in Uttar Pradesh.
Responding to allegations that the sources of the money were dubious, Mayawati said that the money had been deposited following due procedures. “We have an account of every rupee deposited in banks, but what about deposits by the BJP?” asked Mayawati. She also dared the PM to make public bank deposits by the BJP, which she alleged was “anti-Dalit”.
“After I exposed the conspiracy of the BJP in forcing an alliance between the Samajwadi Party and Congress on Monday, BJP was taken aback, and out of sheer frustration it indulged in this petty act against my party and family members of the party chief,” she said.
Reacting to Mayawati’s allegations, senior BJP leader and union minister Ravi Shankar Prasad took strong exception to her linking the ED’s move with the Dalit issue. “If the Enforcement Directorate is investigating some deposits, why should this be labelled as an ‘anti-Dalit’ issue? We can clearly dismiss this contention with some contempt,” he said.
“The bigger question is that can corruption be hidden behind a Dalit card? What is Mayawati trying to say, that her corruption is a movement for the rights of Dalits? This is an insult to all the Dalits of India,” he told news persons. Prasad added that Mayawati had not denied the existence of the deposits in the account and asked if it was a donation or a money conversion exercise.
“The development of scheduled castes should not be ‘mortgaged’ to corruption to one party or leader,” he said.
In her news conference, Mayawati asked the PM to make public major expense, statement of deposits, and expenditures of the BJP. Her party, the BSP, is pitted in a do or die battle against the BJP, the SP and the Congress in a power packed contest in the UP elections. This election is being seen as the most crucial election before the national elections of 2019.
Sources in the Enforcement Directorate have said that around Rs 104 crore were deposited in a United Bank of India account belonging to the BSP in the seven weeks since PM Modi banned 500 and Rs 1,000-rupee notes. At the same bank, Rs 1.43 crore were reportedly deposited in the account of Mayawati’s brother, Anand Kumar, sources said.
Under the Income Tax Act, the income of political parties is exempt from tax provided all donations above Rs. 20,000 are taken by cheque and that in cash is properly documented, with full details of the donors. These accounts also have to be audited.
Mayawati said the note ban came in the midst of the process of seeking donations from supporters for the elections. The old notes that the party had were deposited by due process and she had herself inspected accounts, she said, adding, “should we have thrown away the old notes?”
Dismissing allegations against her brother, Mayawati said, “He has his own business and deposited money in bank account as per Income Tax norms.”
Commenting on the alleged moves of the BJP against her, Mayawati said this action of BJP is a “good omen” for her party, as it had been in 2007. In 2007, the then BJP government at the Centre had raked up the Taj Corridor issue, but the issue helped her get absolute majority in the UP Assembly.
“If Modi and his government take a few more decisions like note ban, it will make our return to power in UP easier… they will pave our way for an easy victory and I will not have to toil much… I want to thank them for it,” she said.
“BJP and other parties have also deposited their money in banks. Nobody is talking about that,” she said, adding it only went on to prove the “anti-Dalit and casteist mentality” of the BJP.