Truckers decisive vote bank, entry tax key issue in Nalagarh bypoll : The Tribune India

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Truckers decisive vote bank, entry tax key issue in Nalagarh bypoll

Truckers decisive vote bank, entry tax key issue in Nalagarh bypoll


Tribune News Service

Ambika Sharma

Solan, June 17

The entry tax payable by truck drivers, who return after dropping cargo, is emerging as a contentious issue in the Nalagarh Assembly byelection. Truckers constitute a large chunk of voters in this constituency.

The issue attracted attention in April when a section of truckers refused to pay the entry tax ranging from Rs 150 to Rs 700 per heavy vehicle while entering the Nalagarh industrial belt through various inter- state barriers. Adamant on not paying the tax, they also carved out temporary arterial routes to re-enter the state after dropping cargo while conveniently bypassing inter-state barriers like at Bagheri.

While the truckers take the plea that they had been granted exemption from the entry tax for several years, officials of the State Taxes and Excise Department, however, said that no such exception was available for commercial vehicles. The area houses Asia’s biggest transport union having 10,000 vehicles in its fleet. The union plays a significant role in the elections and no party wants to annoy it.

Former Independent MLA KL Thakur, who is fighting the Nalagarh byelection on the BJP ticket, has lent full support to the truckers. He had not only supported their agitation but also promised to take up the issue with the state government.

While the government is yet to announce any relaxation for the local truckers, the BJP is exploiting the issue to the hilt. The Congress can end up facing the ire of the truckers, who do not want to pay the entry tax even if it meant revenue loss to the state government.

The truckers’ support can prove to be decisive in the byelection. The Congress has announced Hardeep Bawa as its candidate for the byelection. As the model code of conduct is in place, the state government can’t announce any modification in the toll tax policy to provide relief to the truckers.

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