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Retro tax: Chidambram takes dig at BJP for not naming Pranab

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NEW DELHI: Senior Congress leader P Chidambaram took a dig at BJP for not identifying former President Pranab Mukherjee as the finance minister, who retrospectively amended the tax law, following an adverse ruling by the Supreme Court.
“The retrospective tax was imposed in Budget 2012-13. There was a strange reluctance on the part of FM (Nirmala Sitharaman) to name the finance minister who was in office during 2011-12 and who presented the Budget for 2012-13. I wonder why?” Chidambaram said on Twitter, while referring to her comments in an interview to Times Now.
Without naming Manmohan Singh, Sitharaman had blamed “the very eminent economist”, who ran UPA-2 for the retrospective amendments. However, the finance minister, just like her party, while attacking UPA’s management of economy between 2004-2014, has chosen not to focus on the role of Mukherjee’s role as finance minister. In fact, Mukherjee was conferred Bharat Ratna, the highest civilian honour, during Narendra Modi government’s term.
Chidambaram’s tweet, seeking to pin the retrospective taxation decision on Mukherjee, instantly revived the memories of his tense equations with the former President.
While Chidambaram had been FM between 2004 and 2008, he shifted to the home ministry after the 26/11 attacks and returned to the finance ministry after Mukherjee became president in 2012. During his stint as finance minister, Mukherjee decided not to pursue several initiatives pushed by his predecessor, such as a new Direct Taxes Code.
Responding to Sitharaman’s comments on inflation being as high as 12.4% during UPA’s tenure, Chidambaram also emphasised that inflation under UPA was highest during Mukherjee’s tenure as FM. “Under UPA II, the worst year of inflation was 2010-11. Average WPI reached 9.6% but declined year after year to 6% in 2013-14,” the former FM said.
Mukherjee, who died last year, has largely been seen as among the key drivers for the policy change that has resulted in severe criticism globally. While BJP had criticised the policy at that time, the Modi administration has now appealed against rulings against it by international tribunals, arguing that tax policy is a sovereign issue and cannot be determined by tax treaties.

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