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Walkout over VAT hike
July, 14th 2009

The Opposition BJP on Monday staged a symbolic walkout from the assembly in protest against the state government's decision to hike the VAT from 12.5% to 14%. The issue was raised by BJP chief whip Rajendra Singh Rathore during the Zero Hour, who claimed that it would put an additional burden of Rs 600 crore on the public.

"The business organisations in the state had called for a half-day bandh, following which more than 12,000 shops remained closed on Monday. This strike will mean a Rs 7 crore loss to the state,'' said Rathore, opposing the move to hike VAT. Rajasthan, apart from Uttar Pradesh, was the only state which hiked the VAT, he said.

"Haryana had to withdraw its order and if the government here is as sensitive as it claims to be, it will have to do the same,'' he said.

Rathore's demand was supported by other Opposition MLAs, who created an uproar in the assembly. Supporting Rathore's call attention motion, Raje raised an objection to the absence of chief minister and other senior cabinet ministers in the House.

"This is a very important issue and neither the chief minister nor any responsible cabinet minister is present in the House. As a protest, we are staging a walk-out,'' said Raje.

The BJP MLAs were back in a few minutes, to make a second attempt to rake up the issue. However, speaker Deependra Singh Shekhawat did not allow them to speak, saying, "Once the Opposition has staged a walkout, it cannot raise the issue again,''

Senior BJP MLA Kalicharan Saraf raised the issue of the murder of Mukesh Mangal, who was found murdered on May 20 in the state capital. Mangal, who was a contractor, was allegedly killed by his business rival Anup Bharatwaj, who had been handed over to the police but let off after interrogation.

"The police had refused to file a man missing complaint when the family approached them. When Mangal's body was recovered, it was the family and not the police who traced the accused using mobile call records,'' said Saraf.

"The accused was let off because of the intervention of an additional SP of the city, Rameshchand Sharma,'' alleged Saraf, adding that of the five accused, four are evading arrest.

Answering on behalf of the state government, education minister Bhanwarlal Sharma assured the House that the DGP would be asked to initiate an inquiry into the matter. "If any official is found guilty, action would be taken against him,'' Sharma said.

Several BJP MLAs including Vasudev Devnani and Kiran Maheshwari raised objections for not being allowed to raise issues related to their constituencies in the House. They walked to the well of the House in protest.

The other issues raised in the House include illegal sale of school textbooks meant to be distributed for free, a high court bench for Udaipur and increasing drug trade in Ajmer.

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