Excise duty will bring back Inspector Raj: Kejriwal

New Delhi, April 3 (IANS) Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal on Sunday said imposition of excise duty on jewellery items will bring back Inspector Raj in the country.

“The excise duty is sought to be introduced without consulting the jewellers. I have written a letter to the prime minister that the government is not going to benefit by this tax. Rather, it will give rise to corruption. The excise inspectors will ask for bribes from the jewellers,” Kejriwal said while addressing the protesting jewellers at Jantar Mantar here.

He said he met President Pranab Mukherjee to discuss the issue.

“When the United Progressive Alliance government was in power, Pranab Mukherjee as the then union finance minister had also introduced the same tax in 2012. However, the then Congress-led government had to roll back the tax after resistance from the jewellers. The president also agreed with the view that it will bring the Inspector Raj back in the country,” Kejriwal said.

The chief minister said Modi himself had opposed the excise duty on jewellery when he was Gujarat chief minister. “In 2012, Modi also wrote that the excise duty will bring Inspector Raj. But now, as prime minister, Modi has imposed the same tax he opposed as the chief minister. What has changed now?”

Kejriwal said if the central government was so keen on increasing its revenue it should recover the money lent to big corporate houses.

“The banks have failed to recover Rs.7.3 lakh crore lent to 10 big corporate houses in the country. Those businessmen were not even paying any interest. The government will not have to impose unnecessary taxes on the common man if it manages to recover the money,” he said.

Taking a dig at Jaitley, the chief minister advised Modi to leave the union finance minister’s company.

“Jaitley doesn’t have to contest any polls; but Modi ji, you have to face the people again in future. You are more experienced than me, but still I’d advice you to leave his (Jaitley) company or he would land you in trouble,” Kejriwal told the gathering.

Lakhs of jewellers across the country have been protesting the budgetary proposal to impose one percent excise duty on non-silver jewellery. Their strike continued for the 33rd day on Sunday.

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