The Madhya Pradesh government on Wednesday waived the road tax on a luxury vehicle worth more than Rs 1.30 crore owned by Shankaracharya Jyotishpeetha (Badrikashram), Swami Swaroopanand Saraswati.
According to sources, the tax amounting to approximately Rs 11 lakh was waived off during a state cabinet meeting that was chaired by chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan.
They said the original price of the bus was about Rs 15 lakh but modifications like washroom, lift, bed, etc to the tune of Rs 1.30 crore-1.35 crore were added to it.
Parliamentary affairs and health minister and the state government spokesperson Narottam Mishra told reporters about the cabinet’s decision after the meeting. The minister, however, didn’t disclose the amount of the tax exempted.
The Shankaracharya’s disciples were pursuing authorities to get the tax waived on the bus that was bought last year.
The transport department refused to oblige the holy man but home minister Babulal Gaur tried convincing the government to waive off the tax.
According to sources, though Shankaracharya is considered to be close to the Congress camp, Simhastha fair held in Ujjain in April-May this year also played a role in changing the Chouhan government’s mind on the issue.
Transport minister Bhupendra Singh, who was in charge of organising the Simhastha, had to seek support from Shankaracharya besides the akharas.
Singh took up Shankaracharya’s request and sent a proposal to the state cabinet, which is the authority that takes such decisions, that accepted it on Wednesday.
“Shankaracharya ji is protecting sanatan dharma. Hence, the tax exemption is justified. We are happy that the state government has done this,” Swami Ramanand, a disciple of Shankaracharya, told Hindustan Times.
The Congress understandably didn’t oppose the cabinet decision.
“I wish to thank chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan that he gave respect to the Shankaracharya by waiving off the tax,” state Congress chief spokesperson KK Mishra said.