The Congress on Friday asserted that the RSS does not want the government to push the Goods and Services Tax (GST) bill for passage in parliament. The party said it will support the key legislation if the Narendra Modi government agrees to its two “principal demands”.
“We have been saying that let’s pass GST. But because RSS has red flagged GST, the government will not like to pass GST and they will only blame us,” party spokesperson Randeep Surjewala said to reporters at the Foreign Correspondent’s Club here.
He said the party has two amendments to the bill and if the government accepts them Congress will support the bill.
“What is Congress party saying on GST. Let us put an outer cap of 18 percent on it. Already there is 15 percent service tax in India, 35 to 40 percent income tax, and you (government) want to impose GST. By all means please do, but please put an outer constitutional cap,” he said explaining that the ‘proposed cap’ will reduce the reckless multiplicity of taxes.
“Can we impose the kind of tax on the people of this country that will break their back and drive them to a situation where it will lead to social unrest? The answer is no, and that is our responsibility,” Surjewala added.
Explaining the party’s stand on the issue, Surjewala said the Congress wants the government to appoint a third party to arbitrate on the GST issues.
“In another demand, Congress party says let there be a third party arbitrator to decide on disputes relating to GST but Prime Minister (Narendra) Modi, (Finance Minister) Mr. Jaitley and their government wants the GST council to settle the disputes,” he said, adding that there should be a neutral judge in case of a dispute between two parties.
Surjewala said the government will not accept these “legitimate demands as RSS does not want it to pass the bill”. He said that small scale and medium traders which make up the majority of the RSS support base believe they will get adversely affected by passage of the GST bill.
He also accused the Modi government of being “non-serious” in projecting the country on a growth path.
“Growth comes on account of sincerity and functioning of the government; its policies and their implementation on the ground. Congress party is contributing to key pieces of legislation which the BJP opposed when they were out of power,” Surjewala said asserting that the Congress has helped in the passage of “hundreds of key legislation” as a “constructive opposition”.
The Congress’s reaction has come in the backdrop of speculation that the government may try to bring in the key GST bill for passage in the ongoing Parliament session.