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AAP to oppose Amarinder govt’s proposed taxes, calls move ‘illegal and unconstitutional’

Both Mann and Khaira said they were all together. The two leaders even hugged each other for the cameras. Asked why they had to put up such a show of unity if there was no discord, Mann pointed the finger at the media.

punjab Updated: Jul 23, 2017 09:35 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times, Chandigarh
AAP,Sukhpal Khaira,Bhagwant Mann
Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) state unit president Bhagwant Mann with newly appointed leader of opposition Sukhpal Khaira at a press conference in Chandigarh on Saturday.(Anil Dayal/HT)

The Aam Aam Party (AAP) hit out at Captain Amarinder Singh-led Congress government in Punjab on Saturday for planning to impose new taxes, including professional tax, on citizens to wriggle out of financial crisis.

AAP MLA and newly appointed leader of opposition Sukhpal Khaira said the Goods and Services Tax (GST) had already been imposed on the people with both the Centre and the state getting their share. “There is no scope for any new taxes. Any move to levy additional taxes will amount to illegal and unconstitutional double taxation. We are not going to allow this,” he told reporters after a meeting of the party legislators.

Khaira was flanked by state unit president Bhagwant Mann, co-president Aman Arora and other party MLAs. Lok Insaaf Party legislators Simarjeet Bains and Balwinder Bains also attended the meeting. The AAP leaders presented a “united face”, repeatedly telling reporters that there was no factionalism in the party.

Both Mann and Khaira said they were all together. The two leaders even hugged each other for the cameras. Asked why they had to put up such a show of unity if there was no discord, Mann pointed the finger at the media. Dakha MLA HS Phoolka, who recently quit as the leader of opposition to continue fight cases of 1984 anti-Sikh riot victims, was not present. However, party leaders said Phoolka was coming from Delhi and had got late for the meeting.

Cong, SAD politicising GST on langar

The AAP accused the Congress government and the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) of “politicising” imposition of GST on “langar”, demanding that such services in all religions be kept out of the ambit of taxation.

“Charitable places such as ‘Pingalwara’, orphanages and old age homes should be exempted from GST. The government should constitute a committee of the State assembly to identify such places to push for tax exemption,” said Khaira, asking the government to come forward and bear the tax burden on account of GST on langar.

The AAP leader said that both parties (SAD and Congress) were trying to gain cheap publicity but had not raised the issue in meetings held on implementation of GST. He particularly lashed out at SAD leader Harsimrat Kaur Badal, who is a member of the Union cabinet, for failing to take up the matter with Union finance minister Arun Jaitley. “She can raise the issue with the finance minister in Delhi and ensure exemption,” he insisted.

AAP MLAs to meet probe panel looking into sand mining

A delegation of AAP legislators will meet the Justice JS Narang Commission of Inquiry, which is probing the allegations of impropriety against power minister Rana Gurjit Singh in sand mining auctions, next week to raise pertinent issues relating to alleged benami transactions.

“Though we are anticipating that a clean chit will be given to the minister, we want to raise the real issue of dubious financial transactions. There is no mention of such transactions in terms of reference of the inquiry commission. We will not let them get away,” said Khaira. However, no date has been decided for the meeting with the probe panel head so far.

The AAP leader also accused Capt Amarinder Singh of being hand-in-glove the Badals, ex-CM Parkash Singh Badal and his son Sukhbir Badal.

“They filed cancellation reports in three cases just days before the assembly elections and Amarinder is now reciprocating by doing nothing against them. (Local bodies minister Navjot) Sidhu wants action, but the CM says no political vendetta. Capt is letting the Badals go scot-free,” he alleged, demanding an inquiry.

Khaira also demanded a special award for cricketer Harmanpreet Kaur, who powered India’s victory over six-time champion Australia to reach the final of the ICC Women’s World Cup, for bringing glory to Punjab. “I will write to the CM to give her the special award and a government job,” he said. Aman Arora disapproved of the hefty hike in salary and perks given by the state government to aides and advisers of the CM despite the state’s financial crunch.

Mann said the Congress government had failed to fulfil its promises of debt waiver and jobs to youths. Farmer suicides were continuing and motorbikes operated by private companies were being offered in the name of jobs, he said.

First Published: Jul 23, 2017 09:22 IST