Lucknow: Within 24 hours of some newspapers and television channels pointing out the odd legacy former Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister (later the country’s Prime Minister) VP Singh had left behind, Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath ordered that, in the future, the income tax returns of any Cabinet minister or chief minister would not be paid by the state exchequer.
The chief minister or the minister will now file his own income tax return. Until now, the government used to file income tax returns of ministers from the state treasury based on a rule made by Singh on the premise that most politicians were too poor to be able to pay this amount!
The Yogi Adityanath government announced the end of the old tradition that was burdening the state exchequer. Apart from the current chief minister of the state, the income tax of 18 former chief ministers and other ministers had been filed by the exchequer.
The Uttar Pradesh government will now collect income tax from about 1,000 ministers. These chief ministers had been from the Congress, Samajwadi Party, Bahujan Samaj Party and the BJP.
Yogi govt had paid Rs 86 lakh worth of tax for ministers already
Former chief ministers on whose behalf the government was required to deposit income tax included the names of Narayan Dutt Tiwari, Mulayam Singh Yadav, Kalyan Singh, Mayawati, Rajnath Singh, Akhilesh Yadav, and Yogi Adityanath. It was then Chief Minister Vishwanath Pratap Singh’s tenure under which the bill mandating the paying of income tax of chief ministers had been passed.
Uttar Pradesh has paid income tax of Rs 86 lakh already for all the ministers who have been in the Yogi government for the past two years. Before the rest of the tenure could go on with ‘business as usual’, the media raised a din. And the Yogi government made this course correction.
19 chief ministers fleeced people
In 1981, a law was enacted under the Salaries, Allowances and Miscellaneous Act of Ministers of Uttar Pradesh. Since then, 19 chief ministers, including Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath for the past two years, and Mulayam Singh Yadav, Akhilesh Yadav, Mayawati, Kalyan Singh, Ram Prakash Gupta, Rajnath Singh, Shripati Mishra, Veer Bahadur Singh and Narayan Dutt Tiwari had taken full advantage of this odd law.
When this Act was passed in the Legislative Assembly, Singh had told the House that the state government should bear the income tax burden of the ministers, as most of the ministers were from poor backgrounds and their income was low. Uttar Pradesh Treasury paid income tax dues of almost all chief ministers and Ministers since 1981. Almost because a few governments did not last their terms in the once politically unstable state.
UP politicians enjoyed the loot silently
When the party leaders were approached regarding the filing of income tax from the state exchequer, no spokesperson of any political party agreed to comment on it. A Samajwadi Party leader said that they would discuss the matter first within the organisation and only then comment on it.
A Congress leader said that although the VP Singh government had enacted the law, mostly non-Congress governments benefited from it. He clarified that in the early 1980s, political leaders came from poor backgrounds and their salaries were low, too. Later, non-Congress governments increased the salaries of chief ministers and ministers. “They should have repealed the act,” he said.
A minister of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) said that he was not aware of this awkward state law until now. He said that he did not have the time to check his accounts, “but we will see what should be done now”.