Sam Pitroda's 'inheritance tax' remark sparks row, Congress says not our idea

Sensationalising Pitroda’s comments and tearing them out of context are deliberate and desperate attempts at diverting attention away from Narendra Modi's malicious and mischievous election campaign, the Congress said.
Sam Pitroda
Sam Pitroda
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After his remarks about inheritance tax rolled into a controversy, entrepreneur, author and Indian Overseas Congress Chairman Sam Pitroda claimed that his words were twisted and taken out of context. The Congress in India also clarified that while Sam Pitroda was a respected leader, his views did not always reflect that of the party's. On Tuesday April 23, Sam Pitroda had spoken about the inheritance tax in the US which he said allowed the government to take 55% of the overall wealth of a person upon their death while the rest went to the family. There is no such law in India and these are the kind of issues people will have to debate and discuss, Pitroda said. 

The remarks came at a time the Bharatiya Janata Party ruling India has been attacking its principal rival party on the basis of former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's comment about redistribution of wealth. With the general elections going on in the country, BJP Prime Minister Narendra Modi has been making provocative speeches, claiming that the Congress would redistribute the 'hard-earned' money of people to "infiltrators" and "those who have more children" in an apparent reference to Muslims. 

Sam Pitroda
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Modi's remarks led tens of thousands of people to demand that the Election Commission initiate action against him. Chief Ministers of Kerala and Tamil Nadu, two non-BJP ruled states, condemned the PM’s rhetoric. It is in this context that Sam Pitroda’s comment surfaced. Pitroda said that it only meant new policies could be created to prevent the concentration of wealth, it does not mean a person's wealth will be taken and given to someone else, before going on to explain the US law.

The BJP was quick to react to Pitroda's comments and claim that the "Congress wanted to grab one's hard earned tax payed resources." On the morning of Wednesday, April 24, Jairam Ramesh, Congress's General Secretary in-charge of Communications, said that while Pitroda expressed his opinions freely on issues he felt strongly about, it did not mean that they always reflect the position of the party. 

"Sensationalising his comments now and tearing them out of context are deliberate and desperate attempts at diverting attention away from Mr. Narenda Modi's malicious and mischievous election campaign; that is anchored ONLY in lies and more lies," Jairam Ramesh said. Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge said that the Congress had no such intention and asked, referring to Modi, "Why are you putting his ideas in our mouths? Just for votes, he is playing all these games."

Pitroda also clarified that he had mentioned the US law as an example in a television conversation. "I said these are the kind of issues people will have to discuss and debate. This has nothing to do with policy of any party including congress." He added that it was unfortunate that his comments were twisted by “Godi media to divert attention from what lies PM is spreading about Congress manifesto (sic).”

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