In a desperate scramble for credit for getting the Centre to roll back its proposal on wealth tax,Punjab Congress finally won the race. The SAD,which came in a breathless second,was at pains to claim credit for the victory while cancelling its statewide protest over the issue scheduled for Wednesday.
There is nothing much left to discuss on the wealth tax issue during the special one-day session of the Assembly called for May 3 and the SAD,sources said,has now decided to broad base the agenda and talk about the anti-Punjab policies of the Centre.
Union Finance Minister P Chidambaram,who took the decision to undo the wealth tax proposal in the Finance Bill-2013,gave the entire credit of his decision to Haryana chief minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda and the Congress leadership in Punjab.
The SAD leadership,including Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal,who have been camping in Delhi since last evening waiting to meet Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had to settle for a telephonic conversation with him.
All that the SAD was left to do was issue vitriolic press statements claiming that it was their and the farmers victory and not of the Congress. The statements reflected a confused CM,who did not know whether to take on the Congress or tow the I dont mind who gets the the credit as long as our work gets done line.
The SAD has only itself to blame for this loss of political brownie points. Though its reaction to the proposal,when it came to light,was almost immediate,its action plan was spread over a week beginning April 30. By this time,Punjab Congress leaders had already started meeting party leaders in Delhi over the issue.
Over conscious over the race for credit,which Congress seemed to be winning,SAD leaders focused more on photo-ops. The telephonic conversation that Badal had with the PM on the last day could have taken place on the day the SAD leadership met and prepared its protest blueprint.
In the end,the Congress managed to grab the ball out of SADs hands and smoothly got it down the basket while the SAD watched helplessly not knowing what hit them.
Left high and dry,SAD attacked the Centre for having imposed the tax in the first place and the state Congress for claiming credit for its rollback rejoicing in its own defeat. Badal described the rollback as a delayed step forward.
They (Congress) first completely denied the existence of the problem and later,faced with immense and unrelenting pressure mounted by the SAD-BJP,they sought to take undeserved credit for a decision taken against their declared stand, said the CM. He added that though the predominant feeling was of relief,farmers must be vigilant against premature celebrations. Congress has a habit playing mischief till the very last moment, he said.
Claiming that he did not mind who got the credit as long as the work gets done,Badal said: Let them take credit for getting us Chandigarh,river waters,punishment against the guilty of 1984 riots and compensation for long years of concession given to neigbouring states. I will personally honour them for their contribution to the state if they secure justice for the people for the state.