Continuing its boycott of the House proceedings, the opposition Congress held a mock assembly session for the third consecutive day on Tuesday.
The session was dominated by the volatile issue of property tax, to be imposed by the Punjab government in urban areas falling under civic bodies across the state. Congress legislators demanded that the tax be withdrawn immediately.
Speaking on the occasion, party MLA from Hoshiarpur Sham Sunder Arora said the owner of a 500-square-yard house would have to pay property tax of Rs 4.5 lakh annually. For a 20-square-yard shop, the tax would be Rs 25,000 per annum, he claimed.
Voices from the mock session were audible inside the House as the Congress MLAs had brought a public address system to make themselves heard. Raising slogans for withdrawing the law on property tax, Congress legislators shouted: "Kala qanoon wapas lao" (withdraw draconian law).
"Small businessmen, shop owners and residents of urban areas would be the worst-affected. They are earning less than what they would have to pay as property tax," added, Arora demanding that the law be withdrawn and other methods of generating revenue be adopted.
Another party MLA, Brahm Mohindra, said he had boycotted a meeting of the district-level zoning committee to ascertain property prices in Patiala. He said the imposition of prices tax was causing urban-rural divide.
Meanwhile, with the SAD-BJP government scheduled to present the budget for financial year 2013-14 on Wednesday, the Congress has decided to hold a mock budget session simultaneously. All party MLAs have been told to reach the Vidhan Sabha by 10 am for the purpose.
Jakhar sticks to stand
On the SAD-BJP coalition's demand for the Congress' apology to the speaker, Congress Legislature Party (CLP) Sunil Jakhar said, "In case someone says Sunil Jakhar should apologise, I am ready to do it, but if the CLP leader is asked to say sorry, I would not do so because there is no deviating from the party's stand."
Reacting to CM Parkash Singh Badal's comment that Capt Amarinder Singh had been unceremoniously removed from the post of state Congress president, party MLA Lal Singh said Badal had no right to interfere in Congress affairs.