BJP losing face on chopper tax issue

2 weeks on, tax on commercial helicopter services not withdrawn

Although the ongoing beef controversy has overshadowed the decision of the Finance Ministry to impose service tax on devotees going by helicopter to Vaishno Devi, the issue has given sleepless nights to BJP leaders as the Finance Minister appears adamant on not rolling back his decision.

BJP losing face on chopper tax issueThe BJP is losing people’s faith because it has failed to fulfil its commitment to get the controversial service tax order, which has been dubbed as “jazia” by saffron organisations, withdrawn so far.

On September 2, the Finance Department issued an order imposing 12.5 per cent service tax on all commercial helicopter services operating in Jammu and Kashmir. The order was implemented the next day.

With commercial helicopter services operating mainly to shrines like Vaishno Devi, Amarnath cave and Machail, the reaction was obvious. It caused anger among people who felt that the service tax was mainly aimed to further burden devotees visiting these shrines.

People dubbed this tax as “jazia”, the tax imposed on non-Muslim subjects durMughal rule. Taken aback by the arbitrary decision of the Finance Ministry and with anger brewing among people, the BJP had presented a brave face.

It had announced that it would get the controversial order withdrawn within a couple of days. Fourteen days had passed after the controversial order was issued, but nothing had been done.

Interestingly, outspoken BJP leaders who were in the forefront of opposing this tax had gone into hiding and no one was ready to speak on record.

“We have conveyed the BJP’s concerns to its ministers in the coalition government. It is the responsibility of the BJP ministers in the government to get this order revoked,” said a senior BJP leader on the condition of anonymity.

As reported earlier, Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh had asked Deputy Chief Minister Nirmal Singh to get the issue resolved as early as possible, but there had not been any progress so far.

The Deputy Chief Minister had stated on record that he took up the issue with Chief Minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed. “The way PDP leaders are adopting delaying tactics on this emotive issue is an indicator that the Finance Minister had taken this decision with the consent of leaders of his party,” said the BJP leader.

He admitted that the BJP had lost the faith of people on this issue, which had the potential to snowball into a major controversy across the country.

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