Tearing into the present BJP-led central government’s failure to get the Goods and Services Tax (GST) Bill passed in Parliament, Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi on Saturday said that it was the BJP that opposed the bill when it was in the opposition during the UPA’s regime.
While pointing out that it was the Congress-led UPA government that introduced the GST Bill and wanted it passed in Parliament, Rahul Gandhi said that Narendra Modi, now prime minister, and Arun Jaitley, now finance minister, didn’t let the bill pass.
“The Congress party actually brought the GST to the table. It was conceptualised and designed by us,” said Gandhi while addressing students of the Narsee Monjee Institute of Management Studies (NMIMS) in Mumbai.
“BJP stopped the GST in Parliament for seven years. Arun Jaitley and PM Modi… they didn’t let the GST pass,” Gandhi charged. “I remember that the present PM [Modi] used to ridicule the PM [Manmohan Singh] and Indian economy when we were in power.”
Gandhi said the Congress party is strategically opposing the GST Bill in its present shape on three counts.
“It is not the way of Congress to block the Parliament, it will never be that way. There are three issues with regards to GST where we differ with the BJP,” he said.
“Functioning of GST requires huge infrastructure, the work has not even begun for that. Government should begin that work,” said Gandhi. “We don’t want a GST where there is no cap on taxes. We want a limitation on maximum tax that can be charged to the people.”
Rahul Gandhi also took a dig at the media, saying that it misinterpreted his meeting with Jaitley.
“Jaitley ji came to see me and press stated that he talked to me about GST. Actually, he came to invite me for his daughter’s wedding. The only conversation about GST that was held was him saying ‘GST is good’, which I already know and he doesn’t have to tell me,” he said.
Gandhi also spoke on the recent attack on an Indian Air Force base in Pathankot, saying that the government got it all wrong with regard to which agency should have handled the situation.
“You have an attack in Pathankot. Who is dealing with it? NSG [National Security Guard] have to deal with it not NSA [National Security Adviser, Ajit Doval],” he said. “NSA’s job is not to develop tactics but to build strategy.”
Gandhi also questioned that the BJP-led government’s policy vis-à-vis Pakistan.
“After 26/11, we isolated Pakistan diplomatically. But this government deals with them in an ad-hoc manner,” he charged.
“You cannot prevent 100% terrorist attacks. You can react to them in a different manner. The main issue is how do you respond. After Mumbai happened the government of India implemented and developed a strategy by consulting experts,” he said.