The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Tax report creates rift

New Delhi, Nov. 15: Not only the BJP, the NDA allies are also worried about the fallout of the Kelkar committee recommendations on far-reaching tax reforms. They feel that the suggestions, if implemented, will be a “sure recipe” for disaster at a time when elections are round the corner in Gujarat and scheduled in 10 states next year.

While the BJP has set up a committee to study the recommendations, the allies have made it clear that they will oppose them tooth and nail.

Samata Party spokesperson Shambu Shrivastwa said the Kelkar panel report should be studied in depth. “On the face of it, there are many recommendations that will harm the elderly, women and the middle-class without any benefit to the economy.”

He said in a complex country like India that had multiple levels of sustenance, tax structure was bound to be complex. “Simplifying tax structure should not mean punishing the salaried class,” he said.

Taking exception to bringing agriculture within the ambit of income tax, Indian National Lok Dal (INLD) leader Ajay Chautala said acceptance of the panel’s recommendations would affect the interests of farmers.

Ajay, son of INLD boss and Haryana chief minister O.P. Chautala, said there was a time when the nation had to lose foreign exchange to import foodgrains, but now it was being spent on development. He said it had become difficult for farmers to meet the cost of production.

The farmers did not have assured income as agriculture was dependent largely on nature and they had to struggle against droughts and floods. Farmers were being given high subsidy even in developed countries like the US, he said.

Janata Dal (U) spokesman K.C. Tyagi said his party would oppose the proposed move to bring farmers in the income tax net. He said the parliamentary party was meeting in a day or two to take a stand in time for the winter session starting Monday.

Sources said the Telugu Desam Party and the Akali Dal were also opposed to some recommendations. Their parliamentary parties are also meeting shortly.

The BJP committee headed by Rajya Sabha MP and former Uttar Pradesh chief minister Rajnath Singh, after studying the recommendations, will submit its report to party president M. Venkaiah Naidu.

There is strong resentment within the party against the panel’s suggestions.

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