Governor Shivraj Patil on Sunday gave his nod to convene a special session of the Vidhan Sabha on May 3, as demanded by the ruling Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) to discuss the crucial issue of proposed wealth tax on farmers and to pass a resolution against the move of the union government.
But the opposition Congress, which helms the central UPA government, remains skeptical over attending the session, accusing the SAD of "politicising" the issue. Former chief minister and senior state Congress leader Rajinder Kaur Bhattal here said any decision on attending the session would be taken at the Congress Legislature Party (CLP) meeting that would be convened "soon".
As for Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee (PPCC) president Partap Singh Bajwa, who is an MP from Gurdaspur, he issued a statement here alleging that the SAD-BJP combine was misleading people on wealth tax to make political capital. "An amendment in the law to impose wealth tax on agriculture land is merely a proposal, and it has not been passed by Parliament," he underlined.
He said he would meet UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi on Monday to apprise her of the situation and the standing of the Punjab unit of the Congress on the issue. Thus, the farmers need not panic, he stressed.
Bajwa also stated that the Badals were "merely trying to create panic by spreading rumours" that the income tax department has started issuing notices for collection of wealth tax from farmers. "Being a farmer myself, I appeal to farmers not to panic, wealth tax will not be imposed," he assured.
He clarified that the I-T department had issued a few notices to only specific individuals based in Jalandhar, pursuant to a Supreme Court judgment in a particular case. Union finance minister P Chidambram was already seized of the matter, Bajwa added.
The Punjab cabinet on Friday last had already passed a resolution expressing "deep concern and anguish over the decision of the union government to impose wealth tax on the agriculture land in and around a city". The resolution said, "This decision, which will have far reaching consequences, is like a 'death warrant' for the distressed peasantry of the state."