Demonisation, not demonetisation, won seats for BJP: Sibal

New Delhi: Targeting the BJP government at the Centre, senior Congress leader and former Union Minister Kapil Sibal on Monday said that it is "demonisation" and not demonetisation that succeeded (in the recent state assembly elections).

"Don't think demonetisation has succeeded. It is demonisation that has succeeded," Sibal said during a discussion on the Finance Bill 2017 in the Rajya Sabha.

Sibal's remarks came immediately after he accused Finance Minister Arun Jaitley of unjustifiably shaming the common people by saying that they evade income tax.

"The Finance Minister in his budget speech made a very passionate appeal and in fact told the people of this country that all of them are dishonest, because they don't pay taxes. He said that out of 125 crore people in this country, only 3.17 crore pay taxes," Sibal said.

"But if you calculate, sir, there are just three crore people in this country who are able to pay taxes. And you are telling people that they are dishonest as they don't pay taxes and that's why you are unleashing this terror regime," he added.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi had announced demonetisation of Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes on November 8 last year, just months ahead of the assembly elections in five states, including Uttar Pradesh, where the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has got a thumping majority.

Modi had called it a step towards the fight against black money. The BJP also included issues such as Ram temple in Ayodhya, triple talaq and closure of slaughterhouses in its poll pitch.

Taking strong exception to certain amendments moved by the government in the Finance Bill, Sibal said that these provisions seek to give a push to crony capitalism, weaken the federal structure of the country, allow the government to snoop on citizens and instil fear in the business community.

Sibal said that the Bill removes the cap on corporate funding to a political party and the new provisions do not require the donor to disclose who it donated to.

"The Bill seeks to amend Section 13A of the Income Tax Act, which requires a company to disclose any donation above Rs 20,000. The cap of maximum donation of 7.5 per cent of the net profit of a company has also been removed. Now, not even the shareholders would know to which party the money went," Sibal argued.

Speaking on Aadhar, Sibal said it was meant only for streamlining the public distribution system, but the present government wants to use it for snooping on the personal lives of citizens.

He said that linking everything to Aadhar entails the risk of all the personal details of an individual being hacked by hackers, apart from the government watching every activity of citizens.

He also objected to the "unbridled powers" given to taxmen through an amendment, by which tax officials are not required to give any reason for searching and making seizures, not even to the appellate tribunal.