Wednesday, May 31, 2023 | Last Update : 03:22 AM IST

  India   All India  30 Jun 2017  Congress to skip GST midnight launch

Congress to skip GST midnight launch

Published : Jun 30, 2017, 5:42 am IST
Updated : Jun 30, 2017, 5:42 am IST

The 80-minute function is likely to begin at 11 pm in Parliament’s Central Hall and go on past-midnight.

Arun Jaitley has asked Opposition parties not to skip the GST launch. (Photo: AP)
 Arun Jaitley has asked Opposition parties not to skip the GST launch. (Photo: AP)

New Delhi: A political storm continued to brew on Thursday over the midnight launch of the GST, with many Opposition parties, led by the Congress, deciding to boycott the event saying it “trivialised” the hallowed portals of the Central Hall of Parliament which has only thrice had midnight events — all related to the country’s independence.

Sources said Dr Manmohan Singh, who was invited in his capacity as a former Prime Minister and was likely to share the stage with Prime Minister Narendra Modi at the launch event on Friday, would not attend the programme. Dr Singh’s decision came after Congress President Sonia Gandhi called on him in the morning.

In interesting turnarounds, the NCP, which had joined ranks with the Congress and other Opposition parties to field a joint presidential candidate, said it would attend the GST launch event while the JD(U), which had broken away from the Opposition parties and supported the NDA candidate, said that its top leaders, including Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, would not attend the event as it was against the midnight launch at the Central Hall of Parliament. Other parties, which would boycott the event are the Left parties, the DMK and the RJD.


“There is no whip. But, JD(U) does not like the way the event was being held in the Central Hall of Parliament as it equates the programme with events related to independence,” Party National Secretary K C Tyagi told this newspaper. Sources though say that a small delegation, led by a state minister, might attend the programme.

On the other hand, NCP’s Praful Patel said “yes” when asked whether his party would join the midnight launch of the country’s biggest tax reform.

The BSP and the SP were sitting on the fence with both parties saying they will take a call in the matter on Friday morning.

“Congress will boycott the GST event because of two reasons. First is that for midnight programmes, the Central Hall has been used only thrice - on the day of independence and its silver and golden jubilees. Second that on whatever is taking place in the country… our Prime Minister and Cabinet Ministers are quiet. Farmers suicides and attacks on minorities and Dalits are not being addressed at all,” Leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha Ghulam Nabi Azad said.

Accusing the Centre of turning the GST into a ‘Grand Self-promoting Tamasha’, Congress leader Jairam Ramesh said the GST was first broached by the Congress in 2004 and in the 10 years since the BJP came to power in 2014, the only chief minister to consistently oppose the tax reform was then Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi.

“GST is important, but this GST is not revolutionary. Small traders and industrialists are worried. A lot of changes need to be brought about in the current GST,” Mr Ramesh said.

Meanwhile, the Prime Minister’s Office has sent out letters to all the political outfits, chief ministers, chief secretaries urging them to join hands in rolling out the new tax regime.

Finance minister Mr Arun Jaitley also hoped the Opposition parties would “reconsider” their decision and pointed out that all the political outfits were “consulted” on the indirect tax reform.

These parties “cannot run away from it,” Mr Jaitley said, asserting that the government remained “committed to the GST as any other reform” and added that “it is the single most important taxation reform in 70 years”.

The PMO letter, written by minister of state Jitendra Singh, has been sent out to Chief Ministers of 30 states, leaders of recognised national and state parties and leaders of parties in both Houses of Parliament. Similar letters have also been sent to Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha secretary generals and chief secretaries of states.

In the letter the PMO thanks the state governments and political parties for their cooperation for achieving the momentous task after years of preparation. “The implementation of GST will not only create a unified national market but would also prevent cascading of taxes, boost manufacturing and exports, generate more employment and improve the investment climate in the country. Moreover, the average tax burden would come down and this will benefit the common man,” the letter said.

The communication also has a copy of the Union Cabinet resolution of June 22 which acknowledged their contribution and expressed its gratitude towards the chief ministers of all states, to the GST council, heads of all national and regional political parties and members of Parliament.

Tags: gst, sonia gandhi, manmohan singh, arun jaitley
Location: India, Delhi, New Delhi