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Ruling alliance divided over LBT strike

With the Nationalist Congress Party demanding a discussion by a committee of ministers, the state government, on Tuesday, seemed divided over the imposition of the local body tax (LBT).

mumbai Updated: May 08, 2013 01:39 IST
HT Correspondent

With the Nationalist Congress Party demanding a discussion by a committee of ministers, the state government, on Tuesday, seemed divided over the imposition of the local body tax (LBT).

Deputy chief minister Ajit Pawar and state party president Madhukar Pichad wrote a letter to chief minister Prithviraj Chavan asking him to set up a ministerial committee with traders' representatives to study and address concerns over the local body tax. While Chavan has refused to buckle under the traders' pressure, he has been willing to discuss compliance and other concessions with the traders.

The NCP's letter comes a day after a traders' delegation, led by Mohan Gurnani from the Federation of Associations of Maharashtra, met Pawar. Retailers, meanwhile, will continue their strike on Wednesday.

The letter addressed to the CM stated, "For the last two months, there has been a negative sentiment among traders and people over the imposition of LBT. A senior ministerial group should be set up to address the issue and look at all possible alternatives to the tax."

The letter added that traders are not opposed to the tax but only to the mechanism by which it will be implemented.

While the NCP did not directly call for a review of LBT, party leaders said that all alternatives must be discussed.

"If traders fear the beginning of licence raj, then their concerns should be addressed. We think the committee should deliberate and look at all alternatives. The presence of senior ministers, and not just officials, is necessary," said a senior NCP leader.

Chavan had, on Monday, said that traders had not appointed representatives with whom their demands could be discussed.

He had also hinted that a section of the trading community - bullion traders - was not keen on LBT as it would bring in account book-based taxation.

The tax has been imposed in 19 small cities across the state. It was imposed in Thane, Pune, Pimpri-Chinchwad and Nagpur on April 1. It is likely to be imposed in the city from October 1.