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Sam Pitroda's remark created a political uproar in India, with Prime Minister Narendra Modi taking a dig by rephrasing a popular ad tagline, “Loot Ka Khel, Zindagi Ke Saath Bhi, Zindagi Ke Baad Bhi”, meaning the Congress wants to loot people when they are alive and also after they die.

Written By: Rajat Sharma @RajatSharmaLive New Delhi Updated on: April 25, 2024 15:21 IST
Aaj Ki Baat with Rajat Sharma
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Congress leader Rahul Gandhi’s mentor and chairman of Indian Overseas Congress, Sam Pitroda has this habit of first lighting a fire, and then trying to douse it with water. I remember, how during the last 2019 Lok Sabha elections, Sam Pitroda made a questionable comment “Hua, Toh Hua” about the 1984 anti-Sikh riots that engulfed several cities after the assassination of the then PM Indira Gandhi. At that time, Narendra Modi made it an issue in his election meetings, and the Congress party distanced itself saying it was Pitroda’s personal remark.

The result was there for all to see. Congress touched its lowest score during 2019 Lok Sabha elections. This time too, Pitroda has put his foot in the mouth. In an interview, Pitroda advocated US-type inheritance tax provision, in which 45 per cent is kept by the successor and the remaining 55 per cent is taken away as tax by the government, and said it was “an interesting law”.

This is what he said, “Nothing wrong in accumulating wealth, but to what point? Let me tell you, in America there is an inheritance tax. So, if let’s say if one has $100 million worth of wealth, and when he dies he can transfer probably 45 per cent to his children, 55 per cent is grabbed by govt. Now that’s an interesting law. It says, you, in your generation, made wealth, and you are leaving now, you must leave your wealth, for the public – not all of it, half of it, which, to me, sounds fair. In India, you don’t have that. If somebody is worth $10 billion and dies, his children get $10 billion. The public gets nothing. So these are the kind of issues that people will have to debate and discuss.”

This remark created a political uproar in India, with Prime Minister Narendra Modi taking a dig by rephrasing a popular ad tagline, “Loot Ka Khel, Zindagi Ke Saath Bhi, Zindagi Ke Baad Bhi”, meaning the Congress wants to loot people when they are alive and also after they die. Congress leaders had to scramble to counter this and clearly appeared to be on the defensive. He party disassociated itself from the remark of Rahul’s mentor.

Rubbing it in, Modi said, now one can realize the true meaning of “x-ray” that Rahul has been saying in his election meetings while advocating caste census and survey.

Top BJP leaders like Amit Shah, Yogi Adityanath and others rapped the Congress on this issue. Explaining inheritance tax, Modi did not mince words while telling voters that half of the wealth created by ‘dada-dadis’ (grandparents) and parents for their children and grandchildren will now be seized by the government, if Congress comes to power. This wealth, Modi said, will be redistributed to some particular vote banks.

When reporters asked Congress President Mallikarjun Kharge about Pitroda’s remark, he became angry and said, “Pitroda is the chairman of Indian Overseas Congress, and he has no role in India. Our party has no such intention, and Modi is trying to confuse voters by playing up Pitroda’s remark.”

At India TV’s daylong conclave Chunav Manch in Delhi on Wednesday night, External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar said, "Do not take this as an isolated remark of an individual. It is part of a thought process. First Congress speaks of carrying out a nationwide survey of properties owned by all. Then they say, there should be redistribution (of wealth). They say with pride that ours is a revolutionary manifesto. They had been saying since long that some sections have the first priority over the nation's resources.

Pitroda was citing this example so that you accept it. Later they realized the reaction that would take place. Now they are explaining that Pitroda does not speak for our party and that he did not actually meant what he said. And what does the records say? Rahul Gandhi says there must be census, then he says there must be redistribution. He acknowledges Pitroda as his mentor. Dr Manmohan Singh was made to say, because the remote control was being held by the family, that some sections have the first priority on our resources. Now if you fit all these, what is the picture? It is not Pitroda's 'soch, it is not Rahul Gandhi's 'soch', Yeh Paarivarik soch Hai. (it is the family's thought process). This is the thinking of Nehru, Indira Gandhi, Rajiv Gandhi. So the fourth generation of this family wants licence raj, control raj, poverty raj back, and we shall control whether your property will remain with you or not. And if we feel that your property should belong to some others, it will be done."

BJP spokesperson Sudhanshu Trivedi explained the sections of the society who could get this wealth if Congress came to power. “They are outsiders and infiltrators, who do not have much wealth, and Congress wants to redistribute wealth to them”, he said. Modi, at his Sarguja rally on Wednesday clearly said, Congress is planning to reduce reservation quota of SC, ST and Other Backward Classes and provide reservation to Muslims. He cited the example of Karnataka, where Congress is in power, and the state government is giving 4 per cent reservation from OBC quota to Muslims.

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