The Punjab council of ministers on Friday requested governor Shivraj Patil to convene an emergency session of the Vidhan Sabha on May 3 to discuss the situation arising out of the central government's decision to impose wealth tax on agricultural land in the country.
Punjab chief minister Parkash Singh, Badal who chaired the emergency meeting of the cabinet, also urged the Centre to withdraw any proposal to impose wealth tax on agricultural land falling within a radius of 8 km of municipal limits by declaring it as "urban land".
A resolution passed at the meeting said the farming community in Punjab was already reeling under a debt of Rs. 37,000 crore. "The plight of farmers all over the country is shocking. The decision of the Centre would prove to be a death warrant for them," said the resolution.
It said that the entire chain of business, trade, industry and marketing chain, including shopkeepers and commission agents, would be seriously destabilised and brought to the brink of total annihilation by this decision.
Later, talking to mediapersons, Badal urged all regional and national parties to rise above political divide to save the breadwinners of the country.
Badal and deputy CM Sukhbir Singh Badal will lead a delegation to Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh to urge him to withdraw the decision and not go ahead with the proposed amendments in the finance bill.
Badal said that by levying wealth tax, the union government was forcing farmers to shun agriculture.
Questioning the relevance of imposing this tax on farmers, the chief minister pointed out that when Manmohan Singh was the finance minister in 1992, he had made it clear that productive assets would not be brought under the ambit of this tax. Badal said the decision would put an additional burden of at least Rs. 30,000 per acre on farmers of the state annually, which was much more than the income earned from this land. "We would not let the Cenre impose this tax," he said.
Training guns at Punjab Congress president Partap Singh Bajwa, the CM said the move of state Congress leaders to meet the central leadership over the issue was only a formality as they were hardly concerned about resolving this matter.