Janata Dal (United) president Nitish Kumar today said he did not attend the special midnight session of Parliament to launch the Goods and Services Tax (GST) as chief ministers were not invited to it, but his party MPs were present on the occasion. A section of media had reported that the Bihar chief minister skipped the meeting held to mark the rollout of the GST, the biggest tax reform in independent India. “Was there any invitation for me? Or, for that matter, was any chief minister present at the function,” Kumar asked reporters on the sidelines of a public meeting here. He said the invitations were for Members of Parliament and accordingly 10 JD-U MPs, along with Bihar Commercial Tax minister Bijendra Prasad Yadav, had attended the event.
The JD-U’s decision to participate in the special session of Parliament on June 30 midnight was seen in some quarters as a division between the party and its allies on the GST. The JD-U had earlier decided to break ranks with the Congress, the Rashtriya Janata Dal and other opposition parties on supporting NDA presidential candidate Ram Nath Kovind. “Even when my party was in the NDA and the BJP was opposed to the GST, we were in support of the grand tax legislation. When the then state finance minister, Sushil Kumar Modi, was in a dilemma whether to accept the proposal to head an empowered committee of state finance ministers on GST, I had asked him to do so,” Kumar recalled.
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Reaffirming his support for the GST, Kumar said there would be problems initially in switching over to a new tax regime, but in the long run it would help everybody. When pointed out that liquor, real estate and petroleum had been kept out of the GST ambit, Kumar, who has been keen on implementing total prohibition in the state since April last year, said such issues would be taken up subsequently by the authorities.