Gujarat: Kejriwal promises to set up advisory body of traders, end `raid raj’

Jamnagar: Aam Aadmi Party’s (AAP) national convener Arvind Kejriwal on Saturday said an “advisory body” of traders will be formed to guide the government if his party came to power in Gujarat in the coming Assembly elections.

The Delhi chief minister also promised sops related to Value Added Tax (VAT) and said the party’s government would stop the “raid raj”, as he met a group of traders here.

Kejriwal arrived in BJP-ruled Gujarat, where elections are due by year-end, for a two-day visit on Saturday.

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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,” he said.

“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 added.

As part of his “guarantees” to the trader 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.

The other “guarantees” of the AAP included a commitment to do away with “atmosphere of fear” among the business community and treat them with respect, he said.

An AAP government in Gujarat will put an end to the “raid raj” or harassment of traders and businesspersons by government and tax officials, he said.

It will also offer an amnesty scheme for Value Added Tax arrears and implement a VAT refund mechanism within six months, Kejriwal said. “We will end the ‘raid raj,’ there will be no raids…Our revenue in Delhi grew to Rs 75,000 crore from Rs 3,000 crore in seven years. We never conducted raids, traders are paying (tax) on their own. They see that Kejriwal is improving schools, hospitals, providing water, electricity. They want to pay, all they want is not to be harassed,” he said.

Kejriwal also alleged that local leaders of the ruling BJP harassed those who participated in his meeting in Rajkot, and also warned the traders against attending the interaction in Jamnagar.

“We will have to end this dirty politics. I am coming to meet you in Jamnagar, am I a terrorist? I have come from Delhi asking for a cup of tea and nothing else. I would request Paatil saheb (state BJP chief C R Paatil) and the Chief Minister (Bhupendra Patel) to come to the meeting. Let us sit down and talk. Let us discuss,” he said.

It was not Gujarat’s culture to “use GST officers to threaten people,” Kejriwal said.

“I am not here to steal anything. I invite the CM to come to Delhi and hold meetings. I will not threaten anyone but will send people to your meeting,” he said.

He also targeted Paatil and Patel over the recent hooch tragedy in the state.

During his earlier visit to Gujarat, he visited the victims who had been hospitalized after consuming spurious liquor, but chief minister Patel did not visit them, claimed Kejriwal.

“There is such a thing as humanity. They are the people of your own state. What’s wrong with visiting them,” the Delhi chief minister said, adding that everything should not be seen in terms of electoral benefits.

To a question, Kejriwal said the Gujarat government has not formed a Goods and Services Tax tribunal yet as it wanted to facilitate corruption by officials.

On the issue of dominance of English, Kejriwal said the system of governance and the language remained British even after Independence. “We did not change the system, not even the language….Many people feel ashamed of speaking in Hindi. They take pride in speaking in English….I am proud to be a Hindi-speaker….We should take pride in Hindi as it is our mother-tongue,” he said.

The Gujarat Industrial Development Corporation (GIDC) will be activated and GST slab issue resolved by involving traders in the GST body if the AAP came to power, he assured.

Several countries went ahead of India in the last 75 years because of the “dirty politics” played by some leaders, he said.

“We continued to fight among ourselves….It is time for people to stand up….It is people who will take the country forward and not leaders and political parties,” he added. On the criticism of `revadi culture’ or distribution of freebies to win elections, which prime minister Narendra Modi recently flagged as a dangerous trend, Kejriwal asked what was wrong if his government in Delhi provided free education and healthcare to the poor.

As to the free electricity scheme in Delhi and Punjab, he claimed that the cost was recovered by increasing the revenue substantially.

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