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  India   All India  01 Jul 2017  GST: Opposition voices dissent by staying away

GST: Opposition voices dissent by staying away

THE ASIAN AGE.
Published : Jul 1, 2017, 7:14 am IST
Updated : Jul 1, 2017, 7:22 am IST

Mamata Banerjee launched a scathing attack on the government saying that the GST would lead to harassment of small traders and businesses.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi addresses the special ceremony in the Central Hall of Parliament for the launch of 'Goods and Services Tax (GST)', in New Delhi. (Photo: AP)
 Prime Minister Narendra Modi addresses the special ceremony in the Central Hall of Parliament for the launch of 'Goods and Services Tax (GST)', in New Delhi. (Photo: AP)

New Delhi: Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s midnight tryst with India’s biggest tax reform was boycotted by a large chunk of the Opposition, led by the Congress, with party vice-president Rahul Gandhi dubbing the implementation of GST as a gimmick which was being rushed through in a “half-baked” manner in a “self-promotional spectacle”.

Apart from the Congress, the Trinamul Congress, RJD, BSP, the Left parties and the DMK boycotted the event even as the Nationalist Congress Party and the Samajwadi Party decided to attend it in deference to President Pranab Mukherjee.

The JD(U) sent Bihar commercial taxes and energy minister Bijendra Prasad Yadav, but its top leaders, including Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar and the party’s Rajya Sabha member Sharad Yadav, gave the event a miss.

Mr Gandhi, who is abroad, took to Twitter to say that a reform which holds great potential was being rushed through without planning, foresight and institutional readiness, just like during last year.

“Unlike demonetisation, GST is a reform that @INCIndia has championed & backed from the beginning... But like demonetisation, GST is being executed by an incompetent and insensitive government without planning, foresight and institutional readiness #GSTTamasha,” Mr Gandhi tweeted.

Congress spokesperson Randeep Singh Surjewala said that the government had imposed “highest ever GST rate in the world” while the UPA had proposed putting a cap of 18 per cent on tax.

He also pointed that the GST network was technologically unprepared, adding that the new tax regime would affect the poor, middle class, farmers and small traders.

The Congress on Thursday managed to convince former Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh, who was supposed to share the stage with Mr Modi, not to attend the GST launch event. However, another former PM, JD(S) leader H.D. Deve Gowda, did attend the event.

Announcing the boycott of the midnight programme, the Congress had said that the BJP-led government was equating it with the midnight celebrations of Indian Independence in the Central Hall of Parliament on August 15, 1947, and later events, in 1972 and 1997, to mark of the silver and golden jubilee of Independence.

The NCP, which has stood united with the Opposition on presidential polls by extending support to Meira Kumar, said while it agreed with the Congress’ position on Independence functions, it decided to attend the midnight meeting as it wanted to continue its support to the legislation — a stand taken at the time of its introduction in Parliament.

“We agree with the Congress to an extent, but we supported the legislation when it was introduced (in Parliament and state Assemblies). The party has hence decided to attend the midnight meeting,” NCP leader Tariq Anwar said, adding that the party would be represented by Sharad Pawar.

TMC supremo and West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee launched a scathing attack on the government saying that the GST would lead to harassment of small traders and businesses.

“At the stroke of midnight on 14th August, 1947, India won her freedom. Now, at the midnight of 30th June, 2017, freedom and democracy stand to face grave danger,” Ms Banerjee said. The TMC was the first party to announce boycott of the midnight programme.

The event was also attended by former West Bengal finance minister Asim Dasgupta, who was the chairperson of the first empowered committee of the GST, though his party, the CPI(M), boycotted the event. Kerala’s former finance minister, K.M. Mani of the Kerala Congress, also attended the meeting as he was one of the chairpersons of the empowered committee as well.

Tags: gst, gst launch, narendra modi, rahul gandhi
Location: India, Delhi, New Delhi