|Bhubaneswar, Sept. 11: Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi today warned Prime Minister Narendra Modi against any attempt at suppressing the voice of the Opposition to get controversial legislations such as Goods and Services Tax (GST) Bill passed in Parliament.
“He should listen to all. The way he is trying to stifle the voice of the Congress and go ahead with bills cannot be tolerated,” said Rahul while interacting with a select gathering of reporters here today.
The Gandhi scion, who described Modi government as “suit-boot ki sarkar”, made his party’s objections to the GST bill clear, saying there was a serious difference of opinion on the maximum tax ceiling under it.
Rahul said his party was also insisting on setting up a regulatory mechanism to settle disputes on various issues relating to GST that seeks to replace all indirect taxes with a uniform tax structure by April 1, 2016.
The Congress leader, who answered a wide range of questions, expressed concern over the way the Modi-led BJP was trying to run Parliament.
“Parliament should not be treated as an RSS shakha. The Opposition should be allowed space to function. India is a diverse country and no one should try to thrust his point of view on others,” said Rahul.
The young leader, who also addressed a workshop on social justice during the day, expressed his party’s determination to fight NDA’s controversial land acquisition bill.
“We opposed the bill in Parliament and continue to do so as largescale land related corruption is taking place,” he said while making a strong pitch for enhanced subsidy for farmers.
“They should be helped in all possible ways,” he said.
Describing the Prime Minister’s model of development as anti-poor, Rahul also took a dig at Modi’s much-hyped “Man ki Baat” (talk from the heart).
“Modiji listens to his heart, but he does not listen to the voice coming out of the hearts of millions of Indians,” he quipped.
On factors leading to the defeat of the Congress in the last elections, Rahul said anti-incumbency worked against it as UPA had been in power for 10 years. “We did many good things, but also committed some mistakes. Besides, the BJP and the RSS worked closely to polarise voters in northern India,” Gandhi said.
Curiously, he argued that the Right to Information Act (RTI) that came into existence because of UPA also worked against it as acts of corruption began to be exposed with its help.
Rahul sought to make light of Congress president Sonia Gandhi’s apparent move to delay his succession by extending her term saying his position within the party did not matter much for him.
“Whether I am number 2 or number 6, I will continue to work to strengthen the Congress,” he averred.
On the possibility of his sister, Priyanka entering politics, he said the question should be addressed to her.
“But I will be happy if she joins,” he said.
During his session with the state Congress leaders here, Gandhi advised them to concentrate on the mistakes committed by chief minister Naveen Patnaik and take advantage of them.
“He has left big gaps in development that is something our party should focus on. We should also talk of health care and development of farmers,” said Rahul.
Notwithstanding reports of rampant factionalism in the state Congress, Gandhi expressed satisfaction with its functioning saying there was a healthy relationship between state Congress president and the Congress legislature party leader.
“But we are a democratic party and believe that right to express opinion should not be suppressed,” he said.