BARTERING votes for trade tax concessions? That’s what the Uttar Pradesh Petroleum Traders Association (UPPTA) intends to do for getting the ruling Samajwadi Party Government concede to its demand of rationalising trade tax on diesel in the state.
And how? The UPPTA believes it has the wherewithal to influence the voting decision of about 3 lakh rural populace in Uttar Pradesh, who, it says, are none other than customers of 3,000 petroleum dealers to cast their ballot in favour of a particular party in the forthcoming Assembly polls.
“Most of the rural customers of the petroleum dealers who visit petrol pumps for purchasing 20 to 40 litres of diesel a day for their tractors and irrigation pumps spend hours sitting near the pumps gossiping on the state’s polity round the year,” B N Shukla, president of UP Petroleum Traders Association told Hindustan Times.
“About 20 per cent of the rural customers from each petrol pump could easily vote for the ruling party solely on the advise of petroleum dealers. We have this proposal of campaigning for the Samajwadi Party with a precondition that the ruling government would bring down trade tax on diesel from the current high of 22 per cent to 12 per cent much ahead of the polls”, he said.
Shukla said that several UPPTA members are themselves MLAs and MPs of the ruling Samajwadi Party who could easily convince rural customers to vote for their party in the forthcoming polls.
“We have not taken into account about 700 UPPTA members belonging to other political parties such as the BJP, BSP and the Congress who are unlikely to support the current idea of bartering votes for tax concessions”, he said.
“Our 3,000 petroleum dealers comprise 50,000 “other campaigners” in the form of their immediate family members, friends and relatives located across the state. These 50,000 “family members, friends and relatives” could easily campaign in the rural areas on their own to bring in the desired number of voters in favour of the ruling party”, Shukla said.
He said that the UPPTA had been struggling to get the trade tax on diesel rationalised since 1998 while taking up the matter with the former Bharatiya Janata Party and Bahujan Samaj Party governments in Uttar Pradesh.
“The average sale of diesel per day from petrol pumps in Uttar Pradesh had gone down from 12 lakh litres per day to 5 lakh litres during the past eight years.
Most Delhi and Haryana transporters now ensure that the diesel tank in their vehicles is full in their own states before the vehicles are sent to Uttar Pradesh”, Shukla added.