The opposition Congress party today reacted strongly to finance minister Arun Jaitley's remarks on Tuesday that the disclosure of names of persons holding illicit 'black' money abroad would greatly embarrass the party.
The Congress told the Modi government to stop "blackmail" tactics and dared it to come out with full information, saying the party is above individuals.
Congress general secretary Ajay Maken said the BJP-led government should desist from coming out with "half-truths" and "selective leakage".
"Congress is not going to be blackmailed by any such threat ... stricter possible action should be taken against whoever is involved in it (black money stashing) but that should not be inspired by vindictiveness and it should also not be half-truths," he told reporters in New Delhi.
The Modi government, which has promised to bring back black money stashed by Indians in foreign banks, nonetheless followed the Congress-led UPA line by informing the Supreme Court on 17 October that it cannot disclose details given by countries with which India has double taxation avoidance agreements (See: Black money: Swiss willing, but pact blocks disclosure: Jaitley).
Jaitely in his remarks on Tuesday had said, "The names (of black money account holders) will be public shortly ... I can assure you there is no embarrassment [the BJP] will have when all the names are disclosed. There is some embarrassment the Congress party will have because of those names" (Black money list will embarrass Congress: Arun Jaitley).
Maken recalled that Prime Minister Narendra Modi, during his Lok Sabha election campaign had said that if the black money is brought back, each citizen will have Rs15 lakh; while home minister Rajnath Singh, who was then the BJP president, had promised to bring back black money within 100 days.
"Do not mislead people about names. People of the country are not going to get into this trap of names. People of the country are waiting that when will the government bring back black money. 100 days have already passed and it is to be 150 days. So far not a single penny has come.
"People of the country including me are waiting for Rs 15 lakh to come into their accounts as was promised by Modi ji."
At the same time, Congress leader Digvijay Singh accused Jaitley of "bluffing"' while Youth Congress chief Rajiv Satav wondered what is stopping the finance minister from naming those people.