The government appears to have assured a group of ruling party legislators that there would be no imposition of a wealth tax on farm holdings as had been suggested in the Union Budget.
Haryana Chief Minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda, who was part of the delegation, later told journalists the finance minister would make a statement to this effect in Parliament.
The delegation had MPs from Punjab, Haryana, Rajasthan, Delhi and Odisha; they met P Chidambaram, the finance minister.
Meanwhile, former finance minister Yashwant Sinha of the Bharatiya Janata Party, who is chairman of Parliament’s standing committee on finance, has written to Chidambaram to ‘undo this wrong done to agriculturalists’.
Earlier, the chief minister of Punjab had written in the same vein to the prime minister.
The Budget proposal had suggested such a tax on holdings within eight km of a municipal area.
Punjab’s ruling party had said 70 per cent of the state’s agricultural land was within eight km from the outer limits of municipal bodies.
The said proposal would hit the state’s farmers and was unacceptable, he’d said.
Mohinder Singh Kaypee, a Punjab MP, told Business Standard, “The FM has assured that there will be no wealth tax on agricultural land, whether in an urban area or rural area.”
This ‘positive action’ would come as a huge relief to Congress workers in states, as this tax was being viewed as an anti-farmer move.
Party Mps from Punjab, including Union ministers Manish Tewari and Preneet Kaur, were worried about the public sentiment being whipped by their political opponents.
Punjab’s congress head, Partap Singh Bajwa, had earlier told this newspaper, “We need an urgent clarification, as the (ruling) Akali government is misleading the public against the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance, claiming the government has signed their death warrant.
“We obviously first addressed our concerns to our party president and then took it to the FM.”
Image: P Chidambaram | Photograph: Reuters