Congress leader Tharoor criticizes BJP's tax proposals, alleging desperation for electoral success

03:52 PM May 04, 2024 | PTI |

Senior Congress leader Shashi Tharoor has slammed the BJP for raising the inheritance tax issue, saying the Congress manifesto committee had not even discussed it but the ruling party is flailing about for any weapon they can use as defeat is staring them in the face.


Tharoor, who was a member of the committee that drafted the Congress manifesto for the Lok Sabha polls, said that after a Congress prime minister abolished the inheritance tax in 1985, the only party that has even floated the idea of considering such a cess is the BJP.

Asked about the row over Congress leader Sam Pitroda’s remarks on inheritance tax, Tharoor said, ”I know Sam Pitroda as a very respected elder but he doesn’t even live in India. He is like a sort of a guru on a mountain top except that his mountain top is Chicago and not the Himalayas.” ”He (Pitroda) is perfectly entitled to express his personal views but what the Congress party is contesting this election on is a manifesto, which is a published document. I was a member of the manifesto committee, so I can tell you we never even discussed inheritance tax,” Tharoor said during an interaction with PTI editors at the news agency’s headquarters.

The inheritance tax was abolished by a Congress prime minister, Rajiv Gandhi, in 1985, he pointed out.

”The fact is that when the BJP cynically said that he (Rajiv) did it to save his own inheritance, we were able to point out accurately that the law only kicked into effect from deaths occurring after March 15, 1985 and Indira ji had died in 1984,” he said. ”It was done because, let us face it, as I have seen in my own constituency, billionaires are very good at managing and reporting their own assets in such a way that they have very little in their own names, and the (then) government discovered that the cost of collection was exceeding the revenues coming to the government,” the MP from Thiruvananthapuram said.


In 1985, the government was earning Rs 20 crore from the entire year of inheritance tax collection and was spending far more than that from running an establishment to look at all this, he said.

”So, it was the right decision to abolish it. The only party that has even floated the idea of considering an inheritance tax is the BJP, which in 2019 had the finance minister, MoS finance and other leading lights speaking in terms of ‘wouldn’t this be a good idea?’,” Tharoor said.

He said it was shot down within their own party but the truth is that in the national political space it is only the BJP that has raised the issue. The Congress has nothing to do with it, Tharoor said. ”So, for them to turn it around and use it against us is one more measure of their desperation… they realise they have defeat staring them in the face and they are flailing about for any weapon they can use… the truth is in any case not an obstacle for many of these folks,” he said, in a sharp attack at the BJP.

Tharoor accused the BJP of ”inventing things” that the Congress never put in its manifesto. This is something that the voters are not going to be swayed by, he said.

”The ordinary person, I think, really wants to see their prospects grow, they have more money coming into their pocket every month, they get a job that pays them a salary. Those are the issues that really matter and not some fanciful notion of whether their inheritance is going to be taken away. But having said that we are not going to take away their inheritance anyway,” Tharoor stressed.

The remarks by Pitroda, the president of the Indian Overseas Congress, about the inheritance tax law in the United States while answering a query on the ”redistribution of wealth” issue, had led to a controversy last month with the BJP claiming that the Congress would bring in such a cess if voted to power.

The Congress had asserted that it has no plans whatsoever to introduce an inheritance tax and cited some BJP leaders’ remarks to allege that it is the Modi government that wanted to do so.


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