Accuses Modi-led govt of misleading the country by blaming the Congress
The Congress on Friday hit out at the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) with “documentary evidence” to substantiate its charge that the Narendra Modi-led government was not interested in passing the goods and services tax (GST) Bill and was “deliberately misleading” the country by placing the blame on the opposition party.
Putting forward extracts of the BJP-led Gujarat state government’s submissions before the empowered committee on December 11, 2014, Congress said the state government criticised the GST Bill, saying it would affect manufacturing states like Gujarat.
Congress’ charges come a day after Parliamentary affairs minister Venkaiah Naidu visited party president Sonia Gandhi for help in passage of the GST Bill and legislation on real estate. With Congress dismissing the government’s overture as “mere optics”, the BJPlambasted the former for being a roadblock to economic reform.
|RAJYA SABHA NUMBERS|
|Current Rajya Sabha strength: 242|
|MPs supporting GST: 155|
|MPs opposed GST: 87 (Cong 67 + AIADMK 12 + Nominated 8)|
|Two thirds mark: 162|
|Rajya Sabha MPs retiring by April: 17 (including 5 nominated)|
Congress spokesperson Shaktisinh Gohil, who hails from Gujarat, said the government was engaging in “deception, deceit and doublespeak” on GST. Gohil produced extracts from the Gujarat government’s submission before the empowered committee wherein Gujarat has said that the GST Bill does not reflect our concerns.
“In the GST regime, the abolition of CST (central sales tax) and implementation of the destination principle would result in severe losses to manufacturing states that are also net exporting states,” it stated.
The fractious relations between the BJP and the Congress over the GST, looks all set to become messier with the oncoming Budget session. While the government has made an attempt to make it appear that it is going the extra mile to push through the GST, the Congress on the other hand is intent on proving it is demanding changes in the bill in the interests of the common man. The party has dug in its heels demanding that the GST cap of 18 per cent be stipulated in the text of the constitutional amendment bill, which the government is unwilling to concede.
The government is believed to be relying on the fact that the unfavourable numbers in the Rajya Sabha at present, are all set to change in April, when 17 members are slated to retire, this includes 5 nominated numbers. With Congress numbers shrinking, the government would then be in a better position to push through the GST.
Kapil Sibal, former Union minister, had categorically stated that the RSS and the Swadeshi Jagran Manch were opposed to the GST and hence the BJP was not interested in passing the bill. He alleged that the BJP was playing politics by blaming the Congress instead.