Rajiv Gandhi scrapped inheritance law to save mother's wealth, claims PM Modi; Congress calls him liar

Modi stepped up his attack on the Congress by claiming that he stands as a wall between the people and the grand old party's plans to loot them.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi addresses a public meeting for Lok Sabha elections in Morena, Madhya Pradesh, on Thursday, April 25, 2024.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi addresses a public meeting for Lok Sabha elections in Morena, Madhya Pradesh, on Thursday, April 25, 2024.Photo | PTI

MORENA: Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday alleged that former prime minister Rajiv Gandhi had abolished the inheritance tax after his mother Indira Gandhi's death to save her wealth from going to the government.

As the political slugfest over the issue of inheritance tax escalated on the eve of the second phase of the Lok Sabha polls, the Congress hit back at Modi, calling his remarks on Rajiv Gandhi "lies."

The opposition party also cited the then finance minister VP Singh's budget speech in 1985 on scrapping of inheritance tax.

Addressing an election rally in Madhya Pradesh's Morena city, Modi stepped up his attack on the Congress by claiming that he stands as a wall between the people and the grand old party's plans to loot them. He claimed that after benefiting from it, the Congress now wants to impose it again on the people of the country.

"Listen with your ears wide open about the sins that Congress has committed. I want to put forth an interesting fact. When former PM Indira Gandhi died, her children were going to get her property. But there was a rule earlier that before the property went to the children, some part of it was taken by the government. Congress had formulated a law on this. To save the property so that it does not go to the government, then PM Rajiv Gandhi scrapped the inheritance law. After accumulating wealth over four generations, now they want to loot your wealth."

If Congress comes to power, it will snatch more than half of the earnings of the people through inheritance tax, Modi claimed.

A day after Rahul Gandhi's remark that those who call themselves "deshbhakt" are scared of the 'X-ray' of caste census, Modi claimed that the Congress wants to confiscate people's jewellery and small savings by conducting an X-ray of their properties and valuables.

The Congress wants to reinforce the tax more powerfully now that its four generations have reaped the benefits of the wealth passed on to them, he alleged.

An adviser to the opposition party's 'shehzada' (referring to Rahul Gandhi) has now suggested the imposition of inheritance tax, he said, seizing on Congress leader Sam Pitroda's remarks amid the row on the issue of wealth redistribution.

As long as the BJP is there, it will not allow such designs to succeed, the PM said.

"The wealth that you have accumulated by working hard and enduring hardships will be looted from you once a Congress-led government is formed," he said.

"Modi is standing as a wall between you and the Congress' plan to loot you," the prime minister said.

'Modi's steadfast adherence to lies': Congress

Hitting back at the prime minister, Congress general secretary Jairam Ramesh said on X, "Yesterday the PM claimed that @INCIndia wanted to impose an Inheritance Tax. Once it became clear that it was actually the BJP that has been propagating an Inheritance Tax, he switched lanes."

"Every time he opens his mouth to speak, the Prime Minister provides fresh evidence of his meanness, pettiness, and his steadfast adherence to lies.”

"Once again, his lies stand unravelled. Here is the paragraph from then Finance Minister VP Singh's budget speech of March 16, 1985, which proposed the abolition of estate duty. Paragraph 88 of the speech states the reasons clearly," Ramesh said, and shared an excerpt from the speech.

"As both wealth-tax and estate duty laws apply to the property of a person, the former applying to his property before death and the latter after his death, the existence of two separate laws with reference to the same property amounts to procedural harassment to the taxpayers and the heirs of the deceased who have to comply with the provisions of two different laws," Singh had said, according to the excerpt of his speech shared by Ramesh.

"Having considered the relative merits of the two taxes, I am of the view that estate duty has not achieved the twin objectives with which it was introduced, namely, to reduce unequal distribution of wealth and assist the States in financing their development schemes," Singh had said.

While the yield from estate duty is only about Rs 20 crore, its cost of administration is relatively high, he had noted.

"I, therefore, propose to abolish the levy of estate duty in respect of estates passing on after deaths occurring on or after 16th March, 1985. I will come forward in due course with suitable legislation for this purpose," the then finance minister said.

In his post, Ramesh said incidentally, Indira Gandhi gave away her ancestral property in Allahabad way back in 1970 to the Jawaharlal Nehru Memorial Fund.

Echoing his party colleague's sentiments, Congress leader P Chidambaram claimed that the "manufactured" controversies on "redistribution of wealth" and inheritance tax showed that fear has gripped the BJP, which has fallen back on “distortion, falsehoods and abuse" as 'Modi ki Guarantee' has vanished without a trace.

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Modi doubles down on reservation rhetoric

Meanwhile, the PM continued his attack on the Congress over reservation by claiming that the grand old party wanted to snatch reservation of the SCs, STs, and OBCs and the downtrodden for the sake of its Muslim vote bank. It was bent upon grabbing power with religious appeasement by spoiling the future of the people, the PM claimed.

"The Congress says Muslims have the first right on the country's resources, while I am saying that the poor have the first fight on it," he said.

Congress party is a very big anti-development problem. It put Madhya Pradesh in line with other 'Bimaru' states in the country, he said.

For years, Congress did not allow the 'One Rank One Pension' scheme for the armed forces, but "we did it," he claiimed.

The Congress has been hatching a conspiracy to deprive the tribals and backward classes of their rights for many years, the PM said, hitting out at the opposition party.

"Will you ensure a total washout of those snatching the rights of backward classes?" he asked the gathering.

The BJP government provided free ration to 80 crore people without any discrimination on the basis of religious lines, Modi said.

"Have you ever heard that someone is not getting free ration just because he is a Muslim?" the PM said.

When the Constitution was drafted, it was decided that for the unity and integrity of the country, reservation won't be extended on religious lines, he said.

Babasaheb Ambedkar, the chief architect of the Constitution, was against reservation on religious lines, but the Congress gave it through the backdoor and "stabbed" him in the back, he said.

Further targeting the Congress, Modi claimed that it put many Muslims illegally on the OBC list in Karnataka. It signed a paper declaring them OBC overnight and extending them reservation in education and government jobs clandestinely, he added.

The reservation to Muslims was unlawful and against the Constitution, the prime minister said, adding: "This action of the Congress is an alarm bell for the OBC communities of the entire country."

Referring to border security, Modi said, "We have asked our jawans to fire ten bullets in reply to one."

He said the Congress was indulging in different games to get the chair anyhow by playing with the future of people.

The Congress manifesto talks about religion-based reservation in jobs and education and it is influenced by the Muslim League, Modi claimed.

"The Congress chief minister of Telangana has just said that he will ensure reservation for Muslims," he said.

When a Congress-led government had been formed at the Centre, it first introduced a religion-based quota in Andhra Pradesh, Modi claimed.

"The Congress was not completely successful in its plan then, but it still wants to play that game," he added.

Addressing the rally in support of his party's Morena Lok Sabha seat candidate, Shivmangal Singh Tomar, Modi raised the slogan "phir ek baar BJP sarkar."

Polling in the Morena Lok Sabha seat will be held on May 7.

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