• Tuesday, May 28, 2024

INDIA

Modi attacks Sam Pitroda’s remarks on inheritance tax

“It is unfortunate that what I said as an individual on inheritance tax in the US is twisted to divert attention,” Pitroda later clarified.

FILE PHOTO: Chairman of Indian Overseas Congress Sam Pitroda gestures as he speaks during a press conference in Amritsar on May 8, 2019. (NARINDER NANU/AFP via Getty Images)

By: Pramod Thomas

INDIAN prime minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday (24) seized on Congress leader Sam Pitroda’s remarks on inheritance tax to step up the ruling BJP’s blistering attack on the issue of “wealth redistribution”.

In his poll rallies, Modi framed Pitroda’s comments in his wider onslaught against the Congress, asserting that they have exposed its hidden agenda and that the party has become so removed from the country’s social and family values that it wants to legally rob people of their assets and lifelong savings they want to bequeath to their children.

At an election rally in Chhattisgarh’s Ambikapur, Modi said the dangerous intentions of the Congress are coming to the fore one by one and now “it says it will impose inheritance tax”.

“The advisor of ‘shehzada’ of the ‘shahi parivar’, who was also the advisor to the shehzada’s father, said that more tax should be imposed on the middle class and those who earn by toiling hard,” Modi said, apparently referring to Rahul Gandhi and Pitroda.

The Congress will impose a tax on the assets inherited by people from their parents, he said, claiming that the “panja” (Congress’ poll symbol) will snatch the assets from their children.

Meanwhile, Congress swung into damage control, distancing itself from the comments of the US-based president of its overseas wing and asserting that it has no plan to introduce such a tax.

“Congress ka mantra hei Congress ki loot ‘zindagi ke saath bhi, zindagi ke baad bhi’ (Congress’ mantra is looting people when they are alive and afterwards too),” he said improvising on the iconic tagline of state-run Life Insurance Corporation (LIC).

“Till you are alive, the Congress will impose more tax and after your life ends, it will impose the burden of inheritance tax on you. They (Congress) want to snatch your assets and rights of your children,” the prime minister alleged.

What Pitroda said?

Pitroda said inheritance tax, as it existed in the US, is an “interesting idea”.

Explaining the concept of inheritance tax in certain American states, Pitroda said, “If one has $100 million worth of wealth and when he dies he can only transfer probably 45 per cent to his children, 55 per cent is grabbed by the government. That’s an interesting law. It says you, in your generation, made wealth, and you are leaving now, you must leave your wealth for the public, not all of it, half of it, which to me sounds fair.”

“In India, we do not have such provisions. If an individual is worth 10 billion and passes away, their children inherit the entire sum, leaving nothing for the public… These are the discussions and debates that people will need to engage in,” he added.

In the US, only six states impose an inheritance tax. Additionally, there is a tax known as the estate tax, or “death tax,” which is imposed on the transfer of property after death.

Pitroda added that wealth distribution was a matter of policy and underscored the necessity of implementing a “minimum wage” in India.

His remarks triggered a political firestorm in the country, with the BJP warning people of “property snatchers”.

“Voting for Congress = Losing your Money + Property + Belongings! Voters be aware, property snatchers are here!” BJP spokesperson Jaiveer Shergill wrote on X.

Later, Pitroda also issued a clarification saying that he was just expressing his views on the inheritance tax in the US.

“It is unfortunate that what I said as an individual on inheritance tax in the US is twisted to divert attention from what lies prime minister is spreading about Congress manifesto,” Pitroda said in a post on X on Wednesday.

(with inputs from PTI)

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