The Congress took to YouTube on Monday to counter the BJP on the goods and services tax (GST) bill after finance minister Arun Jaitley told news agency PTI that the government’s top priority for 2016 will be to pass the proposed law.
In a video, titled Principles versus Opportunism, the Congress picked old clippings of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who was then Gujarat chief minister, and Madhya Pradesh chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan to show how the BJP had opposed the landmark bill for a common national tax regime for a uniform market by replacing myriad local levies.
The video includes party vice-president Rahul Gandhi’s speech in Bangalore where he spoke about the Congress’s three key objections to the current bill. He is heard saying in the video: “We want a cap of the rate of tax to save you (the people).”
The Congress has been strongly opposing the GST bill, steamrolling all efforts by the government to push through the legislation in Parliament. Even Prime Minister Modi’s first-ever meeting with Congress president Sonia Gandhi to hammer out a consensus on the bill during the just-concluded winter session of Parliament failed to break the deadlock.
As the principal Opposition party decided to corner the government on different other issues, the GST negotiations went on the backburner.
Finance minister Jaitley, a key negotiator with the Opposition on the GST, told PTI on Sunday that the bill and the ease of doing business are key areas for the government in the coming year.
The NDA government is set to miss its deadline of April 1, 2016, to roll out the GST. But there are indications that it is gearing up to start it anytime next year with support from the Opposition.
Other than the Congress, the BJP says most of the parties are on board on the GST.