Kejriwal: Will end ‘raid raaj’, set up advisory body for traders

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Delhi Chief Minister and Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) national convenor Arvind Kejriwal Saturday said his party will form an “advisory body” of traders to guide the government if it came to power in Gujarat in the upcoming Assembly elections. He also promised sops related to Value Added Tax (VAT) and said the party’s government would stop the “raid raaj” if elected to power.

“We have been running the government in Delhi for the past seven years and never ever have we raided any BJP-supporter businessman intentionally. In fact, we have ended the ‘raid raaj’ in Delhi… We didn’t harass any BJP businessmen and you can cross-check this. We won the hearts of businessmen by our conduct and policies,” said Kejriwal at a town hall-style meeting with traders, businessmen and industrialists in Jamnagar. The town hall held at Oswal Centre is his second such meeting in Saurashtra within a fortnight after the first held in Rajkot on July 26.

The AAP chief, who arrived in the state for a two-day visit Saturday, also alleged that GST officers were armtwisting businessmen and warning them against attending his town hall. “I appeal to (CR) Paatil sahab and CM (Bhupendra Patel) sahab to come and join us in the meeting. We will sit together and discuss. This has been the culture of Gujarat and not to ask GST officers to threaten people to not attend Kejriwal’s meeting” he said. He also invited the Gujarat CM to hold such a meeting in Delhi.

The two-time Delhi CM also claimed that the GST tribunal was not set up for five years in Gujarat after the introduction of the new taxation system to threaten businessmen into paying bribes. The bribe money reaches even the ministers, he alleged. “If we form a government, we will set up a tribunal as we don’t want bribes. We will bring in a law offering amnesty for demand of VAT,” said Kejriwal while repeating that an AAP government will also dispose of VAT refund claims within six months.

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“I am not here to seek donations, I do not need donations. I am here to make traders and industrialists partners in the development of Gujarat. You will be treated as partners when AAP forms a government here. You will give the order and the government will implement that order,” he told the business community.

Kejriwal said the AAP will form an “advisory body” to guide the government if it came to power. “There are different types of businesses, different industries, and different problems come up every day. So we will form an advisory body with representatives from every sector. You will tell the government what to do, and the government will do it. Your decision will be binding on the government,” he said.

Kejriwal also hit out against the BJP over Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s ‘free revdi’ remarks saying the BJP government in Gujarat has debt worth Rs 3.5 lakh crore while the Delhi government has no such liabilities. He added that while he was providing free education, medical treatment and electricity to the poor, the BJP wrote off the debt worth Rs 11 lakh crore of its “friends”.

While the AAP government in Punjab gives 300 units of free electricity to households every month, the Delhi government provides 200 units. Yet, the financial position of the Delhi government is better than that of Gujarat, Kejriwal said.

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He explained that AAP governments are financing free services through higher tax collection coming by way of better compliance. “They are warning us that our budget will have a deficit. But in the April-June quarter, the revenue of the Punjab government went up to Rs 21,000 crore as compared to Rs 15,000 crore the previous year. Thus, we covered the expense of giving free electricity. We are honest people running the government honestly and therefore, people are also paying the taxes,” said Kejriwal.

Kejriwal’s statements came in the backdrop of his promise of free 300 units of electricity to Gujarat households if the AAP wins the Assembly election slated for later this year.

He also targeted CM Patel and Paatil for not visiting the victims of the recent hooch tragedy in Botad and Ahmedabad.

“Let’s not weigh everything on the scales of vote. There is something called humanity also,” Kejriwal said, adding, “There is a Prohibition Act in force in Gujarat and yet liquor is available easily. This is a business worth thousands of crores of rupees. Who runs this? Who is the mastermind of it? Everyone knows this. This is going on with full awareness of the government.”