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It's Modi govt that wanted to bring inheritance tax: Cong

Last updated on: April 25, 2024 00:53 IST

The Congress on Wednesday asserted that it has no plans to introduce inheritance tax in the country as a row erupted over the remarks by its leader Sam Pitroda, who also later said that his comments on the issue had nothing to do with the party policy.

IMAGE: Congress general secretary in-charge (communications) Jairam Ramesh. Photograph: Mohd Zakir/ANI Photo 

Pitroda had spoken about inheritance tax in the United States while delving into the issue of redistribution of wealth.

As the Bharatiya Janata Party latched on it to target the Congress, the opposition party first distanced itself from the remarks of the US-based president of its overseas wing and then launched a counter-offensive claiming it was the BJP that wanted to impose an 'inheritance tax'.


It cited the remarks made in the past by some ruling party leaders, including former union minister Jayant Sinha and the party's social media head Amit Malviya, to buttress its claim.

"I would like to categorically state that Congress has no plan on the inheritance tax. (Sam) Pitroda is a very distinguished professional and has made many contributions to the development of India. He expresses his views on the topic he feels strongly about.

"He has expressed his views in the American context, which has no relevance for us. He does not speak on behalf of the Congress," Congress general secretary Jairam Ramesh said.

With his remarks triggering a row, Pitroda said on X, 'It is unfortunate that what I said as an individual on inheritance tax in the US is twisted by Godi media to divert attention from what lies the PM is spreading about the Congress manifesto. PM's comments on Mangal Sutra and gold snatching is simply unreal.'

'I mentioned US inheritance tax in the US only as an example in my normal conversation on TV. Can I not mention facts? I said these are the kind of issues people will have to discuss and debate. This has nothing to do with the policy of any party including Congress,' he said.

'Who said 55 per cent will be taken away? Who said something like this should be done in India? Why is BJP and media in panic,' Pitroda asked.

However, Prime Minister Narendra Modi seized on Pitroda's remarks on inheritance tax to step up the BJP's attack on the issue of 'wealth redistribution', saying 'zindagi ke saath bhi, zindagi ke baad bhi' is the opposition party's mantra to 'loot' people.

Ramesh said it was former prime minister Rajiv Gandhi who had abolished Estate Duty in 1985.

He also shared a 15-minute speech by Jayant Sinha at the Forbes India Philanthropy Awards 2013 to claim that he was in favour of an inheritance tax.

'The Congress has no plan whatsoever to introduce an inheritance tax. In fact, Rajiv Gandhi abolished Estate Duty in 1985. Please listen to BJP MP Jayant Sinha, once MoS Finance in the Modi Sarkar, and later Chairman of the Parliamentary Committee on Finance.

'He has spent 15 long minutes vehemently arguing in favour of an Inheritance Tax of 55 per cent, like in the US,' Ramesh said.

He also alleged that the prime minister 'is worried and is scared and has been deliberately giving communal colour to our manifesto'.

"He is deliberately making all kinds of allegations against us as he is set to be defeated this time and BJP is halved in the North and is wiped out in the South. So all this is being done to divert attention from the real issues.

"Pitroda ji's comments are being deliberately sensationalised and presented out of context to divert attention from the malicious and hate-filled election campaign of Prime Minister Narendra Modi," the Congres leader claimed.

Ramesh said in a democracy an individual is at liberty to discuss, express, and debate his personal views.

'This does not mean that Mr Pitroda's views always reflect the position of the Indian National Congress. Many times they do not,' he said.

'Sensationalising his comments now and tearing them out of context are deliberate and desperate attempts at diverting attention away from Mr Narendra Modi's malicious and mischievous election campaign; that is anchored only in lies and more lies,' Ramesh said in his post on X.

He also posted, '... In 2017, reports emerged that the Modi Sarkar was going to re-introduce inheritance tax. Fact Three: In 2018, the then Finance Minister Arun Jaitley praised Inheritance Taxes for spurring large endowments to hospitals, universities in the West.'

'Fact Four: News reports emerged that Modi Sarkar would introduce an Inheritance Tax in Union Budget 2019,' Ramesh said in another post.

In his poll rallies, Modi claimed that Pitroda's remarks have exposed the Congress' hidden agenda and that the party has become so removed from the country's social and family values that it wants to legally rob people of their assets and lifelong savings they want to bequeath to their children.

Home Minister Amit Shah also flayed Pitroda's remarks, saying, 'The appeasement politics of the Congress stand exposed today with Sam Pitroda's statement on wealth redistribution. He reaffirmed the party's intention to seize the property of the majority and distribute it among the minority.'

'It yet again brings to the fore that the empowerment of India's poor, Dalits, youth, tribes, and backward classes was never on Congress's agenda,' he said on X.

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