The Income Tax department raided Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) MLA Kartar Singh Tanwar and claimed to have recovered unaccounted income worth Rs 130 crore. It had hit headlines.

Similarly, sometime back, another piece of news had made headlines. It was a report of the National Election Watch-Association for Democratic Reforms (NEW-ADR), an NGO working towards strengthening democracy and governance that said the 16th Lok Sabha has the highest number of crorepatis (millionaires) at 442. The richest of them was from Bihar — Ravindra Kishore Sinha, a multi-millionaire businessman, who firm saw a turnover of Rs 3,000 crore. He declared his assets were worth Rs 800 crore.

Representational image. PTI

The question is not about rich MPs or MLAs, but about the I-T department’s action against the lawmakers from other political parties.

What explains this selective targeting by the I-T department?

What about MPs and MLAs from other political parties like the Congress, BJP, Samajwadi Party, Trinamool Congress or AIADMK, who have amassed wealth beyond their capacities?

Despite the Election Commission of India (EC) sending copies of the affidavits filed by the MLAs, MPs and contesting candidates during the last 15 years to the Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT) — under which the I-T department functions — why has no action been initiated by the board?

The affidavits provide enough clues to tax sleuths.

“There is a phenomenon of unprecedented increase in the assets of MPs and MLAs. The EC sends affidavits filed by these candidates to the CBDT. But, what about the action? Nothing is known in the public domain,” observes Jagdeep Chhokkar, founder member, NEW-ADR.

‘Rich are getting richer and the poor are getting poorer’ — this well-worn assertion and the sentiment behind it sums up the exponential growth in the assets of our legislators and lawmakers.

An ADR report on ‘Growth in Assets Analysis’ of candidates, who contested in more than one election was even more revealing. It showed an average increase of 134 percent in declared wealth over less than five years. The re-contesting candidates had an asset growth of more than 200 percent. In the case of 317 candidates, there had been a whopping growth of over 1000 percent — clearly an abnormal increase in wealth.

Are the signs not clear enough for the I-T department to go beyond the obvious? The department conducts raids based on information received from its sources on ground, wrongdoing by a person or anomaly in income of a taxpayer. The experts feel that the law is applied selectively.

“Rule of law is a necessity of democracy. In our country, it’s not uniform because common people are treated differently from the political class for the same offence,” adds Chhokar.

Can the growth in personal wealth of all the politicians be justified? Going by mathematics and statistics, is it ever possible to have an exponential growth in personal assets to the tune of 1000 percent in just five years — that too for hundreds?

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