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HindustanTimes Fri,24 Oct 2014

Sukhbir hijacks BJP agenda, meets trade, industry representatives

Sanjeev Bhalla , Hindustan Times   Jalandhar, January 02, 2014
First Published: 23:15 IST(2/1/2014) | Last Updated: 23:17 IST(2/1/2014)

Taking lead from its alliance partner, deputy chief minister Sukhbir Singh Badal on Thursday held a closed door meeting with representatives of traders and industry at a local hotel in the morning and none of the BJP legislator was called at the meeting.

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The core committee of BJP is going to meet on Friday to discuss the issues of traders and industries at Chandigarh.

A day before the meeting, Sukhbir hijacked their agenda, discussed all their issues and reportedly assured them to do the needful soon.

Traders had earlier decided to gherao residences of BJP legislators from January 1 on the issues like property tax on commercial properties and refund of VAT, advance taxes etc and BJP leaders asked traders on December 31 to wait as a meeting on the same would be held on January 3.

Notably, the BJP leaders including minister Chunni Lal Bhagat, chief parliamentary secretary KD Bhandari and MLA and state party spokesperson Manoranjan Kalia had held a meeting with leaders of the Trade and Industry Joint Action Committee on December 31 and had promised them that they would discuss their issues with all BJP MLAs and would then take them up with chief minister Parkash Singh Badal.

But before BJP's meeting on Friday, Sukhbir held a meeting with leaders of the action committee, which was arranged by Jalandhar Cantonment MLA Pargat Singh.

Sukhbir told them that the government would review its policies to meet the demands of traders and industry and also assured to refund the pending VAT by March 31.

The meeting was reportedly attended by members of the committee, led by Gursharan Singh.

Even the issue of corruption was discussed in the  meeting where traders openly told Sukhbir that corruption was rampant in the sale tax department of the state.

Some traders even reminded Sukhbir that if the Aam Aadmi party (AAP) can deliver in a couple of days in
Delhi, why you people are taking years to meet the genuine demands of the people.

It may be noted that traders have organised several agitations earlier, but the government was hardly listening to them and even local bodies minister Anil Joshi at a meeting with trade and industry leaders in Jalandhar last month had said that they would have to pay the property tax at the given rate only.

Meanwhile, Jalandhar North MLA KD Bhandari, said, "We have no information about the meeting. The BJP legislators are meeting tomorrow to discuss traders' issues," he added.

Commenting on the meeting held by deputy chief minister in the absence of BJP legislators, Bhandari said, "BJP cannot be ignored in any sense in the state as we are a national party. As per information collected by me, during the course of the day, the meeting was attended by only a few industrialists. If deputy chief minister had held discussions with representatives of the industry and traders, it is good as he has every right to meet them being the deputy chief minister and head of the excise and taxation department."

Pargat Singh was not available for comments.

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