Few days after giving shockers to the alliance partner SAD by questioning its functioning after the ruling combine’s poll debacle in the Lok Sabha polls, the BJP is now flexing its muscle with SAD over the recent amendment to the Value Added Tax (VAT). The amendment requires submitting the advance tax on stocks and is being opposed by traders and industrialists.
A day after local bodies minister Anil Joshi threatened to join the protesting traders if the state government failed to withdraw the tax, another party MLA from Jalandhar (North) and Chief Parliamentary Secretary (CPS) KD Bhandari threatened that the BJP would not allow the levying of VAT on stocked items or materials at any cost. Bhandhari criticised the excise and taxation department officials, whose portfolio is held by deputy chief minister Sukhbir Badal, for virtually spreading “loot” by continuously harassing traders.
“The corrupt officials of the excise department are misguiding the state government over collection of this tax. Last month also the government had assured to withdraw this controversial tax. But the officials have still not done so,” said Bhandari.
After the joint action committee of traders announced they would not file the VAT returns in opposition to the introduction of tax on stocks, the CPS had met the deputy CM last Saturday and assured the traders that Sukhbir had announced withdrawal of the tax. “Something is wrong with the department. Despite repeated assurances by the deputy CM, the excise department has not withdrawn the notification. But the stand of the BJP is very clear. If the new tax is not withdrawn before Monday, the BJP will hold a dharna against the tax,” said Bhandari.
After its worst defeat in the recent polls, the BJP said the party would tread cautiously and opposition to the advance tax was one such tough stand.
Meanwhile, for the second consecutive day, the joint action committee of traders from Jalandhar burnt the copy of the VAT amendment. “BJP leaders are also shedding crocodile tears. How can it be possible that the deputy CM was not listening to them? We don’t need the support of their statement and what we want is concrete action.
On Monday, the committee will gherao the excise and taxation offices across the state.