Tax raids spark cartoon war between SP and BJP in Uttar Pradesh

Tax raids against leaders of the Samajwadi Party (SP) have become the new flashpoint in Uttar Pradesh (UP) linked to polls, the ruling Bharatiya Janata (BJP) party and the main opposition party using cartoons to confront each other.

The Samajwadi party also placed a poster in front of his party’s headquarters in Lucknow which basically said that SP had Akhilesh, while the BJP had central agencies, including income tax, enforcement leadership and the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI).

While the income tax department, which investigated Samajwadi party leaders considered to be close to party leader Akhilesh Yadav, remained silent even after more than 36 hours in the exercise, the SP leader shared a cartoon on Monday that led to the BJP counter.

The income tax service reportedly closed its assessment on SP national spokesperson Rajiv Rai, although the assessment has yet to be formally concluded on some leaders in Lucknow.

The cartoon Akhilesh shared on Twitter showed ‘on electoral duty’ written on an income tax service vehicle to convey his argument that the exercise of income tax on the leaders of his party is fair before the elections was politically motivated. As the UP 2022 polls approach, Yadav’s party has emerged as the main player in the opposition trying to prevent the ruling BJP from a second consecutive term in power in the most populous state.

The cartoon Akhilesh shared went viral in no time as the SP leader mentioned lines from the Hindu holy book Ramcharitmanas along with the cartoon. The lines went as follows:

“Strike anhit pashu pakshioo jaana, manus tanu ganu gyan nidhana (In the midst of the wise, the animals roam fearlessly but run away from the sight of the hunters. How can human beings not be aware of what animals know instinctively).”

Among the leaders of the SP, whose premises were raided, was Jainendra Yadav, a close associate of Akhilesh Yadav. His residence Vishal Khand-Gomtinagar in the state capital was searched. Other people whose premises were raided were party spokesman Rajiv Rai (in Sahadatpura in Mau district) and entrepreneur Manoj Yadav from Punjabi Bagh locality in Mainpuri, who is said to be close to the head of the SP and ‘a Lucknow-based businessman.

Akhilesh’s cartoon at the BJP drew opposition from the ruling party, which responded with another which showed Akhilesh declaring “Yogi hai, anupayogi (Yogi is not suitable)” even as income tax detectives held a bird that read “disproportionate income to known sources of income.

Income tax detectives were also shown holding a napkin that read “national duty”. This BJP tweet also went viral even as top BJP and SP leaders spoke about the raids.

Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath said on Sunday that the tax raids had rocked the Samajwadi party. In response, the SP chief accused the BJP of abusing central agencies to obtain poll results.

Adityanath had targeted the main opposition party’s accusations against the government reflected a “guilty conscience”.

He also said that “the wealth of some people has increased 200-fold in the five-year rule of the Samajwadi Party.”

Deputy Chief Minister Keshav Prasad Maurya also defended the raids. He said only the corrupt fear him even as the SP has found support from several opposition parties on the issue.

Asked about the results of the tax investigation of SP leaders, a tax official not associated with the investigation said that such valuation exercises are usually a long-drawn-out affair.

“Usually these investigations and assessments take a long time and there is a long procedural part, which includes the check books and balance sheets of those interviewed,” said a tax official.

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