Opposition Congress today remained undecided over attending the special midnight event in Parliament on June 30 to mark the implementation of Goods and Services Tax (GST), even as the Trinamool Congress announced its boycott. There are also reports that some opposition parties may boycott the special meeting convened by the government in the central hall of Parliament on midnight of June 30. Sources said the Congress has held internal consultations as well as informal discussions with other parties on whether or not to attend the meeting. A final call will be taken by Congress President Sonia Gandhi tomorrow in consultation with former prime minister Manmohan Singh, during whose government the concept of GST was coined, a senior party leader said. Sources said the Congress leaders are divided on the issue, as a group within feels that the Goods and Services Tax (GST) was the party’s brainchild which has been now taken over by the ruling BJP and thus should attend the special meeting.
However, some leaders feel that the GST is being implemented in a haste and all aspects have not been taken into consideration leading to harassment of small traders and businessmen and thus, the party should abstain. As the suspense on the Congress stands mounted, WestBengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee announced that her party TMC will not attend the GST roll-out programme as she played the “unnecessary hurry” to usher in the tax reform. She also termed the GST roll-out as another “epic blunder” by the Centre. “Our Parliamentary Party has decided not to attend the 30th June 2017 midnight programme at Parliament House to celebrate GST, as a mark of protest,” she said. “We are deeply concerned about GST implementation. After #demonetisation, this unnecessary disastrous hurry is another epic blunder of the Centre,” she said on Facebook. “We have been for GST from the beginning but are very worried now with the way the Central Government is going ahead with the implementation,” she said.
She said repeated suggestions to take some more time to properly implement the GST have fallen on deaf ears and the entire business community, especially the small and medium ones, are scared and confused. “Only 60 hours are left before this ill-planned launch and no one knows for sure what’s happening!”, she said. Taking a dig at the BJP, she said, the ruling party at the Centre had initially strongly opposed GST for over 7 years and suddenly did a somersault after assuming office and turned “a champion of GST”. Sources in left parties said some key opposition parties may not participate, contending that the official machinery itself is “not prepared” to introduce GST, but the government was “rushing” through to implement it.
A Left leader said all sections are agitating and one cannot turn it into an entertainment event when people are suffering. CPI(M) general secretary Sitaram Yechury has questioned the government on “hurrying” into introducing GST and recalled that the ruling BJP had opposed the system when it was in the opposition. The government will use the circular-shaped Central Hall to launch the new taxation system that is set to dramatically re-shape the over USD 2 trillion economies. A gong will be sounded at midnight to usher in the GST. Modi will be the key speaker at the function. President Pranab Mukherjee is also likely to attend the function, where former Prime Ministers Manmohan Singh and H D Deve Gowda have been invited too. The GST Bill was originally piloted by Mukherjee when he was the finance minister in the UPA regime.