New Delhi, March 27, 2017

Govt giving push to crony capitalism: Sibal

The Opposition parties in the Rajya Sabha are trying to return the Finance Bill to the Lok Sabha with a list of amendments that include nullification of the section that gives power for tax officials to “raid, seize and attach” properties.

The Opposition members ripped apart the Finance Bill during a debate on it in the Upper House on Monday. The members argued that the amendments to about 40 pieces of legislation in the Finance Bill proved that the Modi government is moving towards an authoritarian regime.

“This government, through the Finance Bill, is wantonly giving push to crony capitalism. Number two, it is seeking to weaken the federal structure, which is part of the basic structure of the Constitution. Number three, it seeks to muffle the voice of this House (Rajya Sabha)),” said senior Congress MP Kapil Sibal.

Initiating the debate, Sibal said the Bill allows the Centre to snoop into the lives of the citizens. “The enormous powers that have been given to the Income Tax officers prove this particular point, both in terms of business as well as interfering in the lives of the citizens,” he said.

On the changes brought to the Companies Act to lift the regulation on funding by corporate houses to political parties too the Opposition was critical.

“Now what has this government done? It really surprises me that someone who waxes eloquent about transparency and black money, this government has actually done away with the cap. In other words, any company can contribute any amount of money to any political party,” Sibal said.

“Is this the way to function when you are talking about embracing transparency and accountability? I might say that free and fair elections are the essence of democracy and if you allow this kind of funding to take place, what will happen to free and fair elections? So, these are very, very serious issues,” Sibal added.

On amending Section 132 (1) of the Income Tax Act too, Opposition put up a united voice.

BJP leader Bhupendra Yadav said the efforts taken in the Finance Bill will help in curbing black money.

CPI(M) leader Sitaram yechury said personal liberty will be at stake if the changes to the Aadhaar Act using the Finance Bill is enacted.

“The government does not have the courage to say that they want a totalitarian order. That is the reason why they amend so many legislations by subterfuge,” Yechury said.

[The Hindu Business Line]