The SAD-BJP alliance candidate from Amritsar Arun Jaitley has accused his rival and Congress nominee Captain Amarinder Singh of signing a memorandum of understanding with the Centre in 2006 that allegedly forced the state government to impose heavy taxes on the urban population in 2013. HT asked state BJP president Kamal Sharma if heavy taxes imposed on urban population is hurting the ruling alliance in the Lok Sabha elections. Excerpts:
HT: Do you think that the BJP has been able to satisfy people with the logic it has given on imposition of heavy taxes during the second term of the alliance government?
Kamal Sharma: It will not be right to say that everyone has understood the logic behind the imposition of taxes. There is also a big propaganda to misguide people on the issue. The reality is that Captain Amarinder Singh brought these taxes to Punjab. It will take time to make people understand this issue. We are doing our work and the Congress is doing theirs.
But the government imposed taxes during the second term only.
We were helpless and had to impose these taxes. We did not impose taxes during our first term, but it damaged the state’s economy. During our second term, we understood that we will not be able to run the government for next five years by avoiding these taxes. It was a must to avail central grants.
The imposition of taxes has become an issue in the elections.
Definitely, this is an issue in the elections. As the election campaign is reaching towards end, we have been taking this issue to people and making them understand that taxes are imposed only for the development of Punjab.
Is the BJP bearing the brunt of the SAD policies?
I don’t think so. Both parties take decisions collectively. Generally people understand these decisions and sometimes they react also.
Is the SAD forcing its policies and decisions on the BJP?
It is not so. Some decisions have been taken by our party also. Ministerial portfolio to impose property tax was with us and we took the decision. Be it the issue of property tax or regularisation of illegal colonies, our party has always intervened at the required moment.
Do you think that poll battle is tougher for the BJP in Punjab as compared to other BJP-ruled states?
No election is easy. Every election is tough till the votes are polled and result is out. But you will see the effect of Modi wave in the poll results.