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Unrealistic to expect Congress to pass GST bill in poisonous atmosphere: Jairam Ramesh


Hyderabad: Charging Prime Minister Narendra Modi with “poisoning” the political atmosphere,senior Congress leader Jairam Ramesh has said it is unrealistic for the BJP-led NDA government to expect his party to cooperate and facilitate passage of the GST bill in the Monsoon session of Parliament.

“Government cannot do constitutional murder in Arunachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Manipur and Meghalaya and expect GST (bill) to be passed,” Ramesh told PTI here today.

“Murder process is still going on in Meghalaya and Manipur. Government is doing its best to cut and clip the wings of the Supreme Court and I think this is dangerous for our democracy,” the former Union Minister alleged.

“Mr Modi wants to silence all opposition. He wants to silence opposition parties and he wants to silence the Supreme Court. This is unacceptable to Indians,” he said.

“There is a certain political environment that is required for bills to be passed and Mr Modi has done everything possible to poison the atmosphere. In this atmosphere to expect the Congress to cooperate, I think it’s been very unrealistic,” the Rajya Sabha member said.

He claimed that the government is looking at the Goods and Services Tax (GST) purely from the point of view of big industries.

“We are looking at GST from an industry, trade and consumer point of view. We want GST to be not only pro-industry, but also pro-consumer. GST is a major innovation, we want GST. GST will benefit, if properly implemented,” the Congress spokesperson said.

But, he also pointed out that the bill would not usher in “full GST”.

“First of all, it’s not uniform GST…(there is) central GST and state GST. There will be a band. States are free to set their own rates,” he noted.

“Petroleum has been kept out of GST purview for five years, while tobacco, alcohol, electricity and real estate have been kept out permanently. It (GST) is a half-way a house. It’s not a perfect GST, but it’s some GST,” he said.

On the government last week reaching out to Congress to forge a consensus on the issue, Ramesh said it has taken the Modi dispensation almost six months to do so in a structured manner.

He said Congress has made three suggestions on the issue of one per cent additional tax, capping of GST rate at 18 per cent and independent dispute settlement mechanism.

“One per cent additional tax…government said they are going to give up. So, let’s see (on two other suggestions). This is how negotiations should take place. It’s all about compromise,” he said.

The leader also said the government agreeing to accept one suggestion of the Congress should not be seen as a “climb-down”.

“If a compromise is reached (on the remaining two suggestions), we (Congress) have not climbed down (it should not be seen that the Congress has climbed down). This (compromise) is politics. Politics is give and take. Politics is about compromise,” he added.


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