Chaos expected, Congress boycott of GST launch may be smart politics


Highlights

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    Some opposition parties, including Congress, have decided to boycott the historic launch of GST.

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    Thier prime reason seems to be their calculation that GST would be a “massive disaster”.

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    Naqvi felt the decision by some opposition parties to boycott GST’s launch was purely political.

Some opposition parties, including Congress, have decided to boycott the historic launch of GST at midnight on several grounds. However, the prime reason seems to be their calculation that GST would be a “massive disaster”. Hence, instead of being seen as a party to the new tax regime, they want to milk the discontent – if it at all arises – among the traders and common man to reap electoral dividends.

Speaking with India Today, Congress Rajya Sabha MP Renuka Chowdhury claimed that implementing GST would have “severe negative impact”. She alleged that it would lead to chaos and uncertainty. Unemployment would dramatically rise in the months to come, she said.

Asked whether these were the reasons behind Congress’ decision to skip the midnight GST launch, she said, “Yes, we do not want to be a party to the government’s decision to impose itself despite knowing well its fallout,” she said, adding that “implementing GST is an immature decision and an attempt by at self aggrandisement by the ruling party”.

BJP REFUTES CONGRESS CHARGES

Union Minority Affairs Minister Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi wondered how Congress and the other parties such as the Left, Trinamool Congress, DMK and RJD could oppose the launch of GST. “It is a historic milestone and a revolutionary reform economic measure being above party politics. All parties were involved in the constitutional amendment. GST was discussed and passed by Parliament’s Standing Committee and Select Committee,” he said.

Naqvi felt the decision by some opposition parties to boycott the launch of GST was purely political. “All parties should have cooperated and been a witness to GST getting rolled out tonight,” he said.

CONGRESS GAMEPLAN

However, Congress has already started preparing a background to get the sympathies and support in case the launch of GST leads of inflation and unemployment. It feels GST would lead to harassment of small traders and businessmen “because it is being implemented in a haste”.

It maintains that the “midnight tryst with GST” is a “publicity stunt” by the ruling BJP. Former Union minister Anand Sharma, while addressing the media on Thursday, had indicated Congress’ intent. He alleged that the “midnight spectacle” ignored the harsh realities of the country, such as the distress of the farmers, rising unemployment, growing insecurity and intolerance which could not be endorsed.

He said Congress could not be a party to such a “tamasha”. “The publicity gimmick is merely for taxation purpose,” he said.

The Congress leaders alleged that the Centre was seeking to raise GST launch to the level of the functions associated with freedom struggle and independence. Only three midnight functions have been held in Central Hall of Parliament in the past – August 14, 1947 (eve of independence), 1972 (silver jubilee of independence) and 1997 (golden jubilee).

Congress is peeved that the “tryst with GST” is being equated with first Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru’s famous speech “Tryst with Destiny”.

“The Prime Minister and his NDA Government by convening this function in the Central hall are insulting the very memory of India’s freedom struggle and the associated sacrifices. They are trivializing the freedom movement by equating it Taxation and imposition of a Tax by merging the Goods and the Services Tax and trying to raise it to the same level as that of 15th August 1947, 1972 and 1997. It is unacceptable to us. That is why we cannot be a party, we cannot endorse it,” Sharma said.

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