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‘No Recovery Until Conclusion Of Polls’: Centre Tells Supreme Court Over Income Tax Notices To Congress



The party on Saturday said it received two more notices from the I-T department. (Image: PTI)

Appearing for Congress, senior Advocate Abhishek Singhvi appreciated the gesture and termed it to be “gracious”

The Centre on Monday told the Supreme Court that the Income Tax department will not recover anything from the Congress party until the “conclusion” of the Lok Sabha elections.

A top court bench, headed by Justice BV Nagarathna and Justice Augustine George Masih, was hearing the petition filed by the grand old party challenging the proceedings of the IT department. This comes two days after the Congress said that it got two more notices in addition to the penalty of Rs 1,823 crore.

Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, during the hearing, noted, “I want to make a statement in this matter. The Congress is a political party and since elections are going on, we are not going to take any coercive action against the party.” The department is not commenting on the merit of the matter and all rights and contentions should be left open, he said.

Further, the Centre said that they are conceding that IT department won’t recover anything until election are over. “No recovery from the Congress until conclusion of polls.”

Appearing for Congress, senior Advocate Abhishek Singhvi appreciated the gesture and termed it to be “gracious”.

He said that all demand notices were issued in March and before for different years totalling approximately Rs 3,500 crore.

The Congress, on March 29, received a demand notice of Rs 1,823 crore from the IT department. As per sources, the fresh notice issued to the party is for the assessment years 2017-18 to 2020-21 and includes penalty and interest.

Reacting to the Income Tax department’s notice, Congress leader Rahul Gandhi had slammed the BJP-led Centre and accused it of engaging in “tax terrorism”. He warned that when the government changes, action will be taken against those who have “destroyed democracy”.

“When the government changes, action will definitely be taken against those who ‘violate democracy’! And such action will be taken that no one will dare to do all this again. This is my guarantee,” Gandhi said in a social media post on X.

The grand old party alleged that the central government wants to freeze its bank accounts.

A day later, Congress leader Jairam Ramesh revealed that the party received two more income tax notices after the demand notice. “Two more notices were sent to us last night,” he said on Saturday (March 30).

With this latest notice, the Income Tax department has raised a total demand of Rs 3,567 crore from the party, the Congress had said.

A report by news agency PTI quoted sources as saying that the Congress lost income tax exemption in 2018-19 due to extensive use of cash in the electoral process.

Last week, the Delhi High Court rejected the pleas moved by the Congress party against the initiation of income tax re-assessment proceedings against it for four years.

Earlier on March 22, the court dismissed the petitions filed by Congress to challenge the re-assessment proceedings for assessment years 2014-15, 2015-16 and 2016-17.

The latest four petitions for other assessment years in relation to which IT Department has initiated their proceedings, were dismissed by the court on similar grounds on March 28.

(With PTI inputs)

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‘Yuvraj Couldn’t Save…’: Modi Takes a Dig At Rahul Gandhi’s Amethi Loss, Says Congress Comes To Kerala Only for Votes




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(Left) PM Modi with the BJP manifesto; Rahul Gandhi with the Congress manifesto. (PTI)

Lok Sabha Election 2024: Prime Minister Modi also questioned the credibility and trustworthiness of the LDF and Congress in Kerala

In an indirect dig at Congress leader Rahul Gandhi, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday referred to him as the grand old party’s “Yuvraj” (crown prince) and criticised him for seeking votes from the people of Kerala without addressing their issues and interests.

Without mentioning Rahul Gandhi’s name, Prime Minister Modi said the “Congress yuvraj” (prince) was unable to protect his family bastion, in an apparent reference to the Amethi Lok Sabha constituency, which had been a stronghold of the Congress party in the past.

He further attacked Gandhi by claiming that he only thinks about Kerala when it is time to seek votes without ever raising concerns about the ground issues in the state. Notably, Rahul Gandhi is a Member of Parliament from Kerala’s Wayanad seat.

The PM also questioned the credibility and trustworthiness of the LDF and Congress in Kerala, saying they fight each other in Thiruvananthapuram, but in Tirunelveli (in Tamil Nadu) they are allies.

He also said the law and order situation in Kerala was in the news for the political killings in the state and the offences against women due to the ineffective rule by the Congress and Left all these years.

PM Modi, while addressing a public meeting at Kattakada in the Attingal Lok Sabha constituency, reached out to the coastal community in Kerala by promising to safeguard the coastline, protect their livelihoods and ensure a dignified life for them.

The prime minister also raised the issue of gold smuggling and cooperative bank scams in the state to attack the Left government in Kerala adding that corrupt individuals were forming alliances to stop him, but he was not intimidated by them.

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‘Modi Ki Guarantee’: 10 Ways BJP Has Tried to Woo India’s Middle Class in Lok Sabha Poll Manifesto




The BJP manifesto for the Lok Sabha elections has a chapter dedicated to the Indian middle class, titled ‘Modi Ki Guarantee of Middle-Class Parivar Jan’.(Image: PTI/Shahbaz Khan)

BJP leaders said their manifesto for the Lok Sabha elections is aimed at creating a sustained, inclusive, strong and future-ready platform for the growth of the Indian middle class

‘Modi Ki Guarantee of Middle-Class Parivar Jan’, says a chapter in the BJP manifesto, or ‘Sankalp Patra’, released on Sunday as the saffron party made a big pitch to the middle class. The clear appeal to woo the middle class comes amid an effort to build upon a loyal voter base of the poor, many of whom have moved to the ‘neo-middle class’ due to the steady increase in their incomes since 2014.

The Lok Sabha election results on June 4 will show if the BJP’s effort has been successful as the party is banking on these voters in a big way to propel it above 400 seats for the National Democratic Alliance. Party leaders said their manifesto is aimed at creating a sustained, inclusive, strong and future-ready platform for the growth of the Indian middle class.

Here are the 10 ways the BJP has tried to woo the middle class voter:

  1. Recognition The manifesto has a full section recognising the aspirations of the middle class. The document clearly identifies opportunities for the middle class to fulfil its dreams and to create conditions for a better quality of life, BJP leaders said.
  2. Improved Indian cities The BJP has promised to encourage the creation of new satellite townships near metro cities across India through a combination of reforms and policy initiatives, and transit-oriented development. There is a promise to create unified metropolitan transport systems that integrate multimodal transport facilities and reduce commute time in cities. It also talks about creating water-secure cities, leveraging best practices for wastewater treatment, aquifer recharge and smart metering for bulk consumers. There is also a promise of eliminating open landfills to manage all kinds of waste. These promises address immediate liveability concerns of the middle class, said party functionaries.
  3. Ease of living The BJP has promised better cities, high-quality infrastructure, faster and better digital infrastructure, controlling pollution, investment in technologies of tomorrow and better living conditions. All these investments benefit the middle class the most, BJP leaders said. There is also a thrust on more cooperation and coordination, with a promise of undertaking long-term infrastructure projects with centre-state-city partnerships with a vision to revitalise the urban landscapes and enhance the quality of life for people.
  4. Focus on high-value jobs The BJP has promised high-value jobs, not just in the main cities, but in Tier II and III cities. There is a promise for using levers like tourism to promote local entrepreneurship and jobs. This will also cause less disruption in day-to-day life with local job opportunities and, consequently, reduce the burden on bigger cities, BJP leaders said. The ‘Sankalp Patra’ also promises to focus on increasing the number of global capability centres (GCC), global tech centres (GTC) and global engineering centres (GEC) in India. Additionally, the party has promised to continue working towards making the country a global manufacturing hub and enhance employment. “The manifesto envisages Bharat as a trusted global manufacturing hub to be achieved through a series of programmes, including simplification of regulatory processes, investment in infrastructure to meet the requirements of manufacturing hubs,” a BJP leader said, stressing on job-creation moves.
  5. Lower housing cost The ‘Sankalp Patra’ talks about making RERA more effective, towards cost reduction in construction and registration, regulatory reforms like enabling automatic approvals for standard housing designs. This is an important concern for the middle class.
  6. Medical insurance for every person above the age of 70 Medical treatment for those in their old age – 70 years and above – is costly and can be draining for middle-class families. Getting insurance for them is not always easy, BJP leaders said. The party has promised health insurance up to Rs 5 lakh for all citizens above the age of 70, irrespective of their family’s income or wealth status.
  7. PM Surya Ghar Muft Bijli Yojana This scheme was announced on the day of the ‘pran pratishtha’ of the Ram Lalla idol in the Ayodhya temple. Those who can install solar rooftops, including housing societies, can use ‘grid connected’ and ‘battery storage’ solar power for their use. The excess capacity can be fed into the grid and be compensated. “This creates eco-friendly living while setting off costs of power use with earnings from the power fed into the grid. The middle class in the future could see zero electricity bills due to this move,” a BJP leader said.
  8. Better education The BJP has promised expansion of IITs, IIMs and AIIMS, creating more seats and, hence, more opportunities for the children of middle-class families in accessing higher education with better quality and international standards, BJP leaders said.
  9. Investment in agriculture storage infrastructure India can so far store only 47 per cent of all its agricultural produce grown each year, while many other countries can store 100 to 300 per cent of their annual requirement. The BJP has now promised massive new investments in this area and to solve the agricultural storage issues. This will lead not just to farmers getting more remunerative prices, but also lower and more predictable food prices for the consuming middle class, BJP leaders said. “Indian policymakers will no longer have to choose between the interests of farmers and consumers. Both sides can be simultaneously happy once this storage capacity increases,” BJP leaders said.
  10. India’s place in the world Finally, the manifesto has many details on India’s proposed foreign policy initiatives, promoting Indian ideas and values to the world and carving out a place at the global level that Indians could be proud of. “This benefits the Indian middle class the most. In the next decade, the Indian middle class will not only be shaping the destiny of India but will also play a key role as India’s ambassadors to the world. This is the process the BJP manifesto seeks to expedite and solidify, creating an international base and recognition for the middle class to leverage,” a BJP leader said.

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Mysore Set for ‘King’ vs ‘Commoner’ Contest, Acid Test for CM Siddaramaiah




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Mysore-Kodagu Congress candidate M Lakshmana (left) and BJP candidate Yaduveer Krishnadatta Chamaraja Wadiyar (Image: X/yaduveerwadiyar and mlakshman2024)

The BJP has fielded Mysore royal family scion Yaduveer Krishnadatta Chamaraja Wadiyar while the Congress has nominated commoner M Lakshmana.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi addressed a mammoth election rally in Mysore on Sunday. Flanked by JDS supremo and former Prime Minister HD Deve Gowda and BJP stalwart BS Yediyurappa, Modi took on the Congress government in Karnataka. The Gowda – Modi bonhomie was visible at the rally.

Though the Prime Minister refrained from naming Karnataka Chief Minister Siddaramaiah in his speech, it is a known fact that he is the “real” candidate in his hometown Mysore.

PM Modi sought vote for the Mysore – Kodagu BJP candidate, scion of Mysore royal family, Yaduveer Krishnadatta Chamaraja Wadiyar, who, in a surprise development, got a ticket after the party denied renomination to two-time MP Pratap Simha.

Hoping to ride on the goodwill that the benevolent Kings of Mysore still enjoy among the people, the BJP has taken a calculated risk ignoring the caste arithmetic of the prestigious constituency.

Before Yaduveer, scion of the royal family late Srikanta Datta Narasimharaja Wadiyar (SDNR Wadiyar) had represented Mysore four times in the Lok Sabha. Interestingly, he won all four times on a Congress ticket and lost on the BJP ticket in 1991.

The Congress, meanwhile, has fielded a “commoner” M Lakshmana against the “King”. Lakshmana, a Vokkaliga, the dominant caste in the constituency, rose to fame by attacking previous MP Pratap Simha on a daily basis. With no money power of his own, he is banking on Siddaramaiah’s personal clout, party organisation and his caste sympathy to wrest Mysore from the BJP.

The Congress has fielded a Vokkaliga for the first time since 1977 to cash in on the disenchantment among BJP supporters from the caste.

Siddaramaiah has taken winning Mysore as a personal prestige this time as the Congress lost the seat under his chief ministership in 2014 and again in 2019, when he was heading the ruling Congress – JDS coalition steering committee. Winning Mysore during his last term as Chief Minister is important for him and he is leaving no stone unturned for it. He has repeatedly appealed to the voters of his hometown not to let him down again.

In a surprising development, he visited ailing BJP MP and former union minister V Srinivasaprasad at his home in Mysore to boost the chances of Congress in both Mysore and neighbouring Chamarajanagara, currently held by Prasad. The Dalit stalwart has declared retirement from politics, staying neutral in this election.

The Karnataka Congress president and deputy chief minister, DK Shivakumar, has also played the Vokkaliga card appealing to the people of his caste to vote Lakshman, as an adverse result might affect the careers of all Vokkaliga ministers including himself.

The Congress is hoping that a large chunk of Vokkaliga votes will swing in their favour this time. They are also confident of getting the maximum number of minority, Kuruba, SC/ST votes.

Siddaramaiah has already visited Mysore half a dozen times since the declaration of elections and is likely to spend more time closer to voting day, April 26th. His son and former MLA Dr Yathindra Siddaramaiah has been camping in Mysore overseeing the campaign.

The Congress is also pinning hopes on Pratap Simha’s silence and his unenthusiastic campaign for the “King”.

But the BJP is banking on the Modi charisma, Hindutva, Mandir and manifesto of the party. In the Assembly election in May 2023, the BJP was decimated managing to win just one seat here and this has been troubling them the most.

Local election handlers claim that they are depending on the grassroots workers to mobilise the voters and not having MLAs is not a big issue in a general election, which is being fought on national issues.

In a “King” versus “Commoner” fight, who does the presiding deity of Mysore Goddess Chamundeshewari give her blessings to? Both the “King” and “Commoner” claim she is on their side.

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