Wealth redistribution: Congress says it has no such plans even as BJP attacks the party

Pitroda talked about the inheritance tax law in the United States while answering a query on the "redistribution of wealth" issue.

BySouth First Desk

Published Apr 24, 2024 | 6:33 PMUpdatedApr 24, 2024 | 6:33 PM

Congress general secretary in-charge communications Jairam Ramesh.

Amid the row over Congress leader Sam Pitroda’s remarks, the party on Wednesday, 24 April, asserted that it has no plans whatsoever to introduce an inheritance tax. Congress cited former Union minister Jayant Sinha’s remarks to allege that it is the Modi government that wanted to do so.

Pitroda, the president of the Indian Overseas Congress, talked about the inheritance tax law in the United States while answering a query on the “redistribution of wealth” issue.

Modi on Wednesday attacked the Congress over its Pitroda’s “inheritance tax” remark, saying the grand old party’s “dangerous intentions” of snatching away the assets and rights of people have come to the fore.

Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said the Congress party’s plan to impose inheritance tax is aimed at hitting the middle and aspirational classes as they will not be able to pass on their savings to their children.

Also Read: Former PM HD Deve Gowda accuses Congress of insulting its 2 former PMs

Congress has no plan

In a post on X, Congress general secretary in charge of communications Jairam Ramesh said the Congress has no plan whatsoever to introduce an inheritance tax. In fact, former prime minister Rajiv Gandhi had abolished Estate Duty in 1985, he said, adding that it is the Modi government that has wanted to do so.

He said, “Fact One: Jayant Sinha, then Minister of State for Finance, publicly stated that he wanted to introduce Inheritance Tax in 2014. Fact Two: In 2017, reports emerged that the Modi Sarkar was going to re-introduce inheritance tax. Fact Three: In 2018, the Finance Minister Arun Jaitley praised Inheritance Taxes for spurring large endowments to hospitals, universities in the West. Fact Four: News reports emerged that Modi Sarkar would introduce an Inheritance Tax in Union Budget 2019,” Ramesh said in the post.

“Over to you Prime Minister Modi — what is your party’s stance on this issue?” he said and shared media reports on former minister of state for finance Jayant Sinha and former finance minister Arun Jaitley’s remarks “in favour” of an inheritance tax.

Ramesh also shared a 15-minute speech by Sinha at the Forbes India Philanthropy Awards 2013 to claim that he was in favour of an inheritance tax.

“The Congress has no plan whatsoever to introduce an inheritance tax. In fact, Rajiv Gandhi abolished Estate Duty in 1985. Please listen to BJP MP Jayant Sinha, once MoS Finance in the Modi Sarkar, and later Chairman of the Parliamentary Committee on Finance.

“He has spent 15 long minutes vehemently arguing in favour of an Inheritance Tax of 55%, like in the US,” Ramesh said.

‘Attempt at diverting attention’

The Congress distanced itself from Pitroda’s “inheritance tax” remarks, saying sensationalising them are attempt at diverting attention from Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s “malicious” poll campaign.

Ramesh said Pitroda has been a mentor, friend, philosopher and guide to many across the world, and has made numerous and enduring contributions to India’s developments.

“Mr Pitroda expresses his opinions freely on issues he feels strongly about. Surely, in a democracy an individual is at liberty to discuss, express, and debate his personal views. This does not mean that Mr Pitroda’s views always reflect the position of the Indian National Congress. Many times they do not.

“Sensationalising his comments now and tearing them out of context are deliberate and desperate attempts at diverting attention away from Mr Narendra Modi’s malicious and mischievous election campaign; that is anchored only in lies and more lies,” Ramesh said in his post on X.

‘Organised loot and legalised plunder’

If the Congress comes to power, ‘organised loot and legalised plunder’ will be seen in action, Sitaraman said in a post on X while sharing a video clip of Prime Minister Narendra Modi speaking at a rally in Chhattisgarh.

“So, the @INCIndia plan is: While living—Tax. On death —Tax (Inheritance). Aims to hit the middle and aspirational classes. Their savings or small holdings shall not go their children,” Sitharaman said.

The post further said “Dr MMS’ (referring to Manmohan Singh) “Organised loot and legalised plunder” will be seen in action. Congress’ #TaxTerrorism”.

The Congress party on Wednesday distanced itself from the “inheritance tax” issue, saying that the remarks of Indian Overseas Congress Chairman Sam Pitroda were being sensationalised and taken out of context.

Without naming Pitroda, Modi in his Chhattisgarh rally said that “the Congress party’s dangerous intentions have come to fore yet again. Now these people are saying they will impose inheritance tax on properties bequeathed to children by their parents”.

Pitroda issues clarification

With his remarks triggering a row, Pitroda said on X, “It is unfortunate that what I said as an individual on inheritance tax in the US is twisted by Godi media to divert attention from what lies the PM is spreading about the Congress manifesto.”

He said the prime minister’s comments on ‘mangal sutra’ and gold snatching is simply unreal.

“I mentioned US inheritance tax in the US only as an example in my normal conversation on TV. Can I not mention facts? I said these are the kinds of issues people will have to discuss and debate. This has nothing to do with the policy of any party including Congress,” he said.

“Who said 55 percent will be taken away? Who said something like this should be done in India? Why is BJP and media in panic,” Pitroda asked.

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