Narendra Modi today promised to reform the taxation system in India, saying it has become a burden on the common man and the need of the hour is to change it.
"The present taxation system is a burden on common man. It leads to bureaucratic control. The need of the hour is to look into it afresh and bring reforms. Our party is already working on it.
"...My party leaders and experts have recently met and considered the issue for over three hours. Some problems may appear in the first sight but we will have a look at it and find new solutions," Narendra Modi said at an event organised by yoga guru Ramdev, who had demanded abolition of all kinds of taxes and pitched for a single 'Banking Transaction Tax' if the BJP leader becomes Prime Minister.
The BJP Prime Ministerial candidate's remarks assume significance as the party has been talking about abolition of taxes in its internal meetings in the past as well. Former BJP President Nitin Gadkari had last month said that he was contemplating incorporating a proposal to abolish income, sales and excise taxes in the vision document of his party.
Gadkari is heading the team that is preparing the vision document for the general elections.
Ramdev had also said that once Narendra Modi succeeds in coming to power, he should declare the black money being held by Indians in foreign banks to be national wealth and bring it back and also set up a National Farmer Income Commission.
Modi as well as BJP President Rajnath Singh and Leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha Arun Jaitley expressed support for the proposals saying the party would examine them in all seriousness.
"The expectation and hope, which Baba Ramdev has put in the BJP and me personally, we will try our best to live up ton it," Narendra Modi said, adding, "If intentions are right, solutions can be found for all problems."
Excessive taxes, Jaitley said, also cause a rise in black money as people stash away money illegally to evade levies.
He said the life of the common man had become all about paying taxes since his birth to death, listing out numerous taxes levied on using road to house, service, electricity, water besides income tax.
"Whatever a man earns through his hard work, he can finally keep only a small fraction of it and the rest goes out... There is a dire need to simplify the tax regime, to rationalise it," he said, adding he had come to appreciate points made by Ramdev and his aides following his long interactions with them over the years.
The BJP President also seconded the yoga guru's demand, saying there is a need for reform. This alternative of transaction tax is very good. We will consider it and do the best we can".
Narendra Modi blamed the "wrong" policies of the UPA government for economic woes, saying it had resulted in the decline of manufacturing industry, which required an immediate boost if economy was to recover.
He said "policy paralysis" had resulted in lack of coal for power industry despite India having vast reserves of it. Power projects have stalled, forcing us to import steel as industrialists cannot manufacture it here in the absence of electricity even though we have plenty of iron ore, he said.
He also spoke about recent cases of gold smuggling, invoking decades of 60s and 70s when it was rampant and caused the rise of underworld.
"Even sand is being smuggled these days. We are talking about corruption. State needs progressive policy drive and its execution with transparency. It will remove corruption," he said.
BJP leaders also underlined their long commitment to fight against black money, recalling L K Advani's yatra across the country on the issue.
Narendra Modi said despite having over 65 per cent of its population under 35 years of age, Indian had failed to capitalise on the strength of its young population, blaming UPA.
"This demographic dividend could have been an asset but the country's leadership has converted it into demographic disaster," he said, recalling how a high-powered body set up by Prime Minister for skill-development never met for three years while it was supposed to meet every three month.
He said things can be turned around with strong will and intention, stating that the word 'disappointment' was not in his dictionary.
Rajnath Singh contrasted the achievements of Atal Bihari Vajpayee-led NDA government and UPA regime, saying the former enjoyed "current account surplus" while the latter suffered from current account deficit.
Only 27 lakh news jobs were added to the economy during the UPA rule while NDA created employment for over six crore youths, he said.
Ramdev also used the occasion to hit out at Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal and his party AAP for forming government with the support of Congress.
"There will be two poles in the elections. One will have Congress and all those who either give it or take from it support. Voting for them will be like voting for Congress. You will have to remember it," he said.