With Gujarat Assembly elections in mind, the Congress on Monday stepped up its offensive against the BJP government over implementation of GST, blaming the government for the “mess” the “hasty” rollout had created and for taking credit for the post-rollout corrective steps.
The party’s finance ministers announced that they would strongly seek relaxation in tax rates for various sectors and certain corrections at the next GST Council meeting on November 10.
The Congress fielded Punjab Finance Minister Manpreet Badal and Karnataka minister Krishna Byre Gowda to take on the government over what they called “mismanagement” in GST implementation. Badal said there was a “certain degree of arrogance” (on part of the government) but “over the last 4-5 months there has been a change of attitude, primarily because of the groundswell of opposition… to the GST… and also due to the Gujarat elections…”
Gowda said the Congress ministers had been raising several issues, but due to the overwhelming majority “a lot of our concerns were overruled…” He said the formation of a group of ministers on IT-related issues came after Congress finance ministers strongly expressed their concern at the Hyderabad GST Council meet. The Congress ministers had been demanding relaxation in tax rates for construction material, tourism, branded agricultural commodities. “Many of our demands were overlooked but now the government has realised that these are affecting people badly,” Gowda said.
“Now it is being said that Congress members were part of the council and hence Congress has to take the blame… If Modi government was responsible for introduction of GST singlehandedly, then should they also not take responsibility,” Gowda said.