Badal writes to PM, seeks intervention on wealth tax

Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal on Sunday sought Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's intervention to ensure that agriculture land is not brought under the ambit of Wealth Tax Act.

In a letter to the Prime Minister, Badal said that wealth tax could lead to "social disorder and economic crisis". He added that he has launched a broad-based nationwide initiative to build a "political and social" consensus against imposition of wealth tax on agriculture land. The chief minister is likely to meet the PM either on April 30 or May 1.

Badal has also approached Union Finance Minister P Chidambaram and leaders of all national and regional political parties, including MPs, asking them to oppose the move within and outside the Parliament, the Chief Minister's Office said. "Leaders cutting across party lines supported Badal's initiative," CM's advisor on national affairs, Harcharan Bains, told reporters here.

He added: "There is a growing realisation among leaders approached so far by Badal that wealth tax on agriculture would affect not only farmers but a whole range of economic activity."

Badal has also written to the chief ministers of all states urging his counterparts to oppose the imposition of the tax as it would sound "a death knell of the already beleaguered peasantry and of others dependent directly or indirectly on agriculture".

He added that while every farmer will have to pay wealth tax in the range of Rs 30,000 to Rs 70,000 per acre annually, the annual agriculture production of a farmer is far less.

The Centre has decided to impose wealth tax on farmers owning land within 8-km of urban areas.

Badal is likely to call on several leaders including BJP chief Rajnath Singh, Janata Dal (United) president Sharad Yadav, Samajwadi Party supremo Mulayam Singh Yadav and Rashtriya Janata Dal chief Lalu Prasad Yadav for their support on the issue, Bains said.

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