The Left Front, known for its penchant for coming up with ingenious means to brush socialism against the grain, has now given this project an absolutely novel dimension. The LF regime in West Bengal, to stave off the spectre of bankruptcy, proposes to abolish subsidies and introduce a fresh, judicious taxation policy. A proposal to tax livestock has already triggered off vociferous Opposition protests. Annual cess on bicycles used commercially, at Rs 5, rickshaws, rickshaw vans, handcarts and horse- or buffalo-drawn carriages are also in the pipeline. For pilgrims, a daily tax of 50 paise at various holy sites is also part of this suggested programme.
Other aspects of the proposal are as mind-boggling. For instance, grazing on public land will cost Rs 12 per cow, buffalo, horse or donkey. For sheep and goats the same will cost Rs 6. Rickshaws, vans, carts, motorcycles, scooters and tractors will have to pay Re 1 for each trip down certain types of roads and bridges. For heavier vehicles, it’s Rs 2. Similar tariff is suggested for each river/ferry crossing for vehicles, people (sub-divided into age groups), goods and animals.