Major embarrassment awaits Assam Congress as a sensational investigation by Cobrapost exposed that two former State Chief Ministers faked their PAN details while reporting their income to the Election Commission.
The investigation revealed that former Congress Chief Ministers Tarun Gogoi and Bhumidhar Barman are among top 194 politicians of the country from across the political spectrum, including four other former Chief Ministers and 10 sitting ministers, faked their PAN details while reporting their income to the Election Commission.
Tarun Gogoi, a three-time Chief Minister of Assam was unseated when the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) swept the Assembly polls in 2016 and Sarbananda Sonowal took over the reins from Gogoi.
Bhumidhar Barman, a veteran Congress leader from the State held the Chief Minister’s post for a brief period between April 22, 1996 to May 14, 1996.
Barman was elected to the Assam Legislative Assembly seven times on Congress ticket.
Three-time former Chief Minister of Assam and six-time Lok Sabha MP Tarun Gogoi has quoted two different PANs, according to the report.
According to the affidavit filed with the ECI for 2006 Assembly elections, Gogoi had a PAN with number ACOPG06834, which did not exist, but in the next elections held in 2011 the Congress leader quoted a different PAN ACOPG0683M.
However, the Gogoi family witnessed a phenomenal rise in their fortunes during the period between these two elections.
Their declared assets included immovable property worth Rs. 3.65 crore and movable assets over Rs. 35 lakh in 2011 elections.
Contrast this to 2006 when Gogoi had reported a total income of Rs 5,92,580, as shown in his income tax returns, with movable assets of Rs 35.25 lakh, including among others, Rs 14.77 lakh in the State Bank of India Guwahati branch, Rs 3.91 lakh in the Daryaganj branch of Indian Overseas Bank in New Delhi, Rs. 11,920 in SBI Parliament Street branch in New Delhi
The report further stated that while declaring his assets in 2006 Assembly elections, Gogoi’s predecessor and seven-time MLA Bhumidhar Barman had entered ACBPD0559N for his PAN which was found non-existing.
In the next elections, it was found that he has quoted a different PAN ACBPB0559N.
In the list as revealed by Cobrapost, 72 politicians are from Congress while 41 are from Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).
However, according to the report, almost all political parties of the country ‘share this honour’.
The report has categorically stated that the move was a deliberate attempt to ‘hide the exponential rise in their income between elections and to evade tax’.
Notably, the list also has names of 10 sitting ministers.
Notably, according to law of the land, fraudulence in PAN details may even lead to imprisonment and probable attachment of property.
Tarun Gogoi could not be contacted for his reaction as he is in the United States.
When contacted Dr Bhumidhar Barman feigned ignorance about the news and said he will have to enquire about the matter. “I have come to know about the news from you only. I fail to understand how the error has occurred. I will have to discuss the matter with the lawyer who usually looks after the documents furnished to the Election Commission. I will have to talk to my son also. So I can’t say anything right now,” Dr Barman told Northeast Now.
APCC president Ripun Bora refused to comment on the matter saying that he was not aware of the matter.