Shimla: In spot over raising the limit of MLAs travel allowance, both within the country and abroad, former PCC president and sitting MLA Sukhwinder Sukhu on Sunday racked-up a new issue as he shot off a letter asking Chief Minister Jai Ram Thakur to withdraw tax concessions to MLAs and cabinet ministers.Sukhu said, “There is a practice in the state wherein the state government has been paying the Income-tax dues of the cabinet ministers and MLAs. This means the ministers and MLAs — who are public representatives are not paying the income tax outcome of their earnings, salaries and allowances. It is sending a very wrong message to the public.” Also Read – 2019 most peaceful festive season for J&K: Jitendra SinghCongress MLA suggested the Chief Minister get the issue examined and accept his demand to put this practice to an end. “Why not the cabinet ministers and MLAs be paying their Income Tax for the salary and allowances they have withdrawn?” he asked. He was of the view that if the state government stops paying income tax dues of the ministers and MLAs it will send a right message to the public and restore faith in them, which was gradually eroding. Also Read – Personal life needs to be respected: Cong on reports of Rahul’s visit abroad”It will also have some other advantages like clearing an impression that cabinet ministers and MLAs are a privileged class. They are required to pay their income tax,” Sukhu underlined. Further, he claimed that the decision to withdraw the facility will bring a lot of transparency in politics and public life. Currently, the MLAs and also MPs are not getting due respect in the eyes of the public. Sukhu’s move comes close to the heels of state assembly passing a bill to raise the limit of the travel allowance for the cabinet ministers, Speaker, Deputy Speaker and MLAs from Rs 2.50 lakh to Rs 4 lakh per annum. The move had attracted strong public reactions as people had questioned the justifications behind this. Lone CPM MLA Rakesh Singha has not only opposed the facility but has announced not to avail it. He has termed it a burden on the state exchequer, which was already under financial stress because of Rs 50,000 crore debt on the state. Sukhu, on the other hand, had supported the move and also maintained that the facility doesn’t was a farce. “This benefit accrues to the MLAs only if they travel abroad or else outside the state. It’s like LTA benefit. The limit raised to Rs 4 lakhs is notional and not in any manner going to the MLAs pockets. The state assembly records reveal 90 per cent of the MLAs has never available the facility,” he explained. He rather had asked for adopting Punjab pattern to provide official vehicles to the MLAs. The Rs 4 crore so raised should rather go to bank accounts of the MLAs for travelling within the constituency or else. The Chief Minister admits that he should not have agreed to the MLAs demand as the issue has drawn flack without anything paid to the MLAs in reality. “If MLAs surrenders facility voluntarily, I will roll back the decision,” he offered.
Kolkata: The organisers of a Durga Puja in east Kolkata’s Salt Lake area were divided on Sunday over inviting Union Home Minister and BJP national president Amit Shah to inaugurate it on October 1.The state BJP leadership confirmed that Shah will inaugurate the BJ Block Durga Puja during his two-day trip to Kolkata, even as secretary of the committee, Anindya Sinha Roy, on Sunday told reporters that they have no idea about the Union minister being invited. “The puja committee members were not informed about the Union Home minister coming here to inaugurate to the puja. The committee president might have invited him, but we have no information about it. We felt very insulted by this and when we confronted the president, he said he made a mistake by not telling us about it,” said Sinha Roy. Also Read – Bengal family worships Muslim girl as Goddess Durga in Kumari Puja He added they have no problem if the Union home minister comes to inaugurate the puja. “But, he is a leader of a political party and we don’t want our puja to get any political colour.” B J Block committee president Umashankar Ghosh Dastidar, on the other hand, told reporters on Sunday that Shah has agreed to inaugurate the Puja on Tuesday. “He is not coming here as the BJP national president, but as Union Home minister. He has every right to come here and inaugurate the puja. They are crying foul as the decision to invite Shah was taken in a meeting with them. The person, who is creating such confusion, is speaking on a behalf of a political party. But, we have no political affiliation as we invite all MP, MLAs and Councillors of this area to our puja. As the Union home minister is coming here this year, everything could not be discussed with all the members due to security reasons,” he said. Also Read – Bengal civic volunteer dies in road mishap on national highway Apart from Shah, Bidhannagar Mayor Krishna Chakraborty, TMC MLA and Minister Sujit Bose have also been invited. State BJP general secretary Sayantan Basu confirmed that Shah will inaugurate the puja. “The Union home minister is coming to inaugurate the Puja. He will come here at 7 pm Tuesday. Some people are trying to mislead the people about it,” Basu said. (with inputs from Indian Express)