Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi said today that the Goods and Services Tax (GST) would undergo sweeping changes to provide relief to traders, consumers and other sections hit by it, after his party comes to power at the Centre in 2019. He also hit back at Prime Minister Narendra Modi over his charge of rampant corruption in Congress-ruled Himachal Pradesh claiming that according to a NITI Aayog report, graft levels in the hill state were way below others. Himachal fared far better than BJP-ruled Gujarat on development parameters, he said citing the report. He also accused Modi of speaking “selectively” on the issue of corruption and demanded to know where the jobs that the BJP had promised were. “We will completely change the GST after coming to power in 2019 to mitigate the sufferings of the people hit by it,” Rahul Gandhi said addressing poll rallies at Paonta Sahib, Chamba and Nagrota in the poll-bound hill state. Responding to the claims of BJP leaders that the tax was passed with Congress support, he said that GST that has been implemented by the Modi government was not what was proposed by his party.
“The government implemented the GST in haste with the highest tax slab of 28 per cent and a very complicated procedure of filing returns which has ruined businesses,” the Congress vice president said. He said the agitation planned by the Congress on the first anniversary of demonetisation on November 8 was aimed at highlighting the plight of small businesses, youth, women and farmers, who had suffered the most. Taking on Prime Minister Modi over his allegations of widespread corruption in Himachal, Rahul Gandhi said that as per a NITI Aayog report, corruption level was lowest in Himachal and it was also adjudged the best in the country in education, health and cleanliness.
Comparing the data for Himachal and Gujarat, he claimed that the hill state was ahead on all parameters be it health, education, employment or any other sector. The Congress vice president accused Modi of speaking selectively on issues related to corruption and alleged “he never spoke about the Vyapam scam, Lalit Modi scam or any other scam surfacing in BJP ruled states and has skipped mention of Jai Shah, or his crorepati business friends”. He blamed the prime minister for “squeezing employment opportunities” in the country and asked “where are the two crore annual jobs, promised by the BJP in 2014?”.
Demonetisation and GST have not only resulted in big job losses but also destroyed the basic structure for creating job opportunities, he claimed adding that the government policies were helping only a few corporate houses. Drawing a comparison with China, Rahul Gandhi said it gives jobs to 50,000 people every 24 hours while the Modi government provides employment to only 450 people which means that jobs provided by China in two days equals the jobs provided by Modi government in an year. “The prime duty of the prime minister should be job creation for the unemployed youths,” he said adding that it was not being done which was a betrayal.
Questioning the prime minister on the benefits of the “painful exercise of demonetisation”, Rahul Gandhi said that it was “a loot of people’s hard earned money”. He said Prime Minister Modi should tell the nation where the “black money” recovered during demonetisation was. He asked the people to beware of BJP claiming that false promises and steps like demonetisation and GST were the real face of the saffron party. Quoting from the speech of former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi, Rahul Gandhi said that “there are two categories of people; first those who just believe in the working, and second who don’t believe in working but are quick in claiming credit”.
“Modiji is very quick in taking the credit but poor in working, while the chief minister of Himachal Pradesh, Virbhadra Singh, followed the teachings of Bhagwat Gita :’kam karo aur phal ki chinta mat karo’ and worked relentlessly,” he claimed. Himachal Pradesh Chief Minister Singh said the he was committed to granting tribal status to the Trans-Giri area of Sirmour district and his government had raised this issue time and again with the Union government. Singh said that he was not afraid of the BJP’s “wrong allegations”, claims and campaign as he was confident that the people of the state were with the Congress.