Unprecedented pressure tactics notwithstanding, Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan yesterday expressed firm resolve to implement the Local Body Tax (LBT) regime. His unyielding stand came to the fore when the Supreme Court refused to stay the state government’s decision to implement LBT from October 1 in Mumbai.
Despite the fact that a group of his party MPs had a meeting with AICC chief Sonia Gandhi on Thursday to seek her intervention in the matter, Chavan appeared fully resolved to go ahead with the decision.
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“It’s the general public that pays taxes and not the traders,” he said in Pune. The decision was not a spur of the moment one and it was taken after due diligence in 2009-10 followed by discussions at the government and state legislature level, said Chavan.
Meanwhile, 18 MPs from the state had a meeting with Sonia Gandhi and explained their stand with a request to intervene and encourage Chavan to find an acceptable solution to the opposition.
The group of MPs who signed a petition submitted to the Congress chief included Gurudas Kamat, Vilas Muttemwar, Murli Deora, Priya Dutt, Sanjay Nirupam, Eknath Gaikwad, Datta Meghe, Marutrao Kowase, Jawant Awale, Vijay Darda, Bhaskarrao Khatgoankar, Avinash Pande, Hussain Dalwai, among others.
The Congress MPs who met Sonia Gandhi included Kamat, Muttemwar, Meghe and Awale. They also explained the prevailing situation in Mumbai and put across major grievances of traders who fear a lot of hardship in maintaining the accounts and see the tax as an additional burden on them and the people.
However, Chavan’s statement came as a major setback to these MPs and party office bearers in Maharashtra whose move was contrary to the decision of the state unit of Congress to support Chavan.
Despite being a party to the decision, NCP, of late, sought to distance itself by siding with the traders. In this situation, Congress needed to support its CM as NCP was playing double cross, alleged a senior party leader. After NCP’s backtracking, the chief minister became even more determined to go ahead with the system, he added.
Meanwhile, BJP and Shiv Sena, the principle Opposition alliance continued their resistance to the decision. Senior BJP leaders visited Azad Maidan yesterday and participated in the ongoing agitation launched by traders’ bodies. On Thursday, a Sena delegation met Governor S Sankaranarayanan to register their protest on the implementation of LBT.