The Congress and other opposition parties today targeted Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his government over his claims of bringing back black money stashed abroad after deposits of Indians in Swiss banks surged.
Taking a swipe at Modi, Congress president Rahul Gandhi said that under the NDA rule, alleged scamsters such as Nirav Modi and Vijay Mallya fled the country with public money.
Earlier in the day, Finance Minister Piyush Goyal wondered how all the money parked by Indians in Swiss banks could be assumed to be black money, while asserting that strong action would be taken against anyone found guilty of wrongdoing.
India would get the details of bank accounts from Switzerland under a bilateral treaty, he said.
Union minister Arun Jaitley warned that Indians having illegal deposits in Swiss banks would face harsh penal proceedings under the black money law after Switzerland starts real-time sharing of details of accounts from January onwards.
"A news item has appeared today indicating an increase of money by 'Indians' in the Swiss banking system. This has led to misinformed reaction in certain circles raising a query whether the government's anti-black money steps have yielded results," Jaitley said in his blog.
Attacking Modi, Gandhi tweeted, "2014, HE said: I will bring back all the "BLACK" money in Swiss Banks & put 15 Lakhs in each Indian bank A/C. 2016, HE said: Demonetisation will cure India of "BLACK" money.
"2018, HE says: 50% jump in Swiss Bank deposits by Indians, is "WHITE" money. No "BLACK" in Swiss Banks! (sic)." he wrote on Twitter, tagging a media report.
Money parked by Indians in Swiss banks rose by over 50 per cent to CHF 1.01 billion (Rs 7,000 crore) in 2017, reversing a three-year downward trend amid India's clampdown on suspected black money stashed there.
The Congress also targeted the prime minister over his government's claims of clamping down on black money and claimed that Swiss bank deposits of Indians during the UPA rule had fallen, while it rose by over 50 per cent under the Modi government.
"Swiss Bank deposits fell during Dr. Manmohan Singh's time, only to rise to record levels under PM Modi. The current increase of 50.2 pc post demonetisation, is the maximum since 2004," the party said on its Twitter handle.
"What happened to Prime Minister Modi's promise of eradicating corruption and bringing back black money?" Congress spokesperson RPN Singh asked.
He also sought to know about the BJP's promise of bringing back Rs 80 lakh crore in black money stashed abroad and crediting Rs 15 lakh in every bank account.
But, the reality is that instead of the Modi government getting Rs 15 lakh deposited in every bank account, the money parked by Indians in Swiss banks has risen by over 50 per cent to Rs 7,000 crore in 2017, he said.
The JD(U), a BJP ally, expressed "grave concern" over the surge in deposits of Indians in Swiss banks last year.
Its spokesperson K C Tyagi said they had expected that demonetisation, carried out by the Modi government in November 2016, would hit black money hard but the latest figures "are a matter of grave concern".
CPI(M) leader Sitaram Yechury said while the money of Indians in Swiss banks rose, the Centre wrote off the corporate world's loans worth lakhs of crores and allowed some businessmen to flee after looting public money.
He accused the prime minister of having no intention to honour the promises made in 2014.
"Indian money in Swiss banks rises 50% to over Rs 7,000 crore in 2017: a fraction of Indian Black Money in Switzerland. Modi govt writes off lakhs of crores of unpaid loans of crony corporates, businessmen flee India after looting public money under his watch; this data is no surprise," Yechury tweeted.
CPI leader D Raja sought an explanation from the Modi government on the rise in Indian deposits in Swiss banks.
"Modi had promised to get back black money stashed in Swiss banks. He did not keep his promise. Now, there is a rise of Indian money in the Swiss banks. The Modi government should give an explanation on how it is happening," he said.
According to the official annual data released by Swiss National Bank (SNB), the central banking authority of the Alpine nation, the total funds held by all foreign clients of Swiss banks rose about 3 per cent to CHF 1.46 trillion or about Rs 100 lakh crore in 2017.
The Indian money in Swiss banks had fallen by 45 per cent in 2016, marking their biggest ever yearly plunge, to CHF 676 million (about Rs 4,500 crore) -- the lowest ever since the European nation began making the data public in 1987.