Congress, Left to skip midnight GST meet

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The Congress and the Left on Thursday decided to keep away from the special midnight June 30 meeting convened by the government on goods and services tax implementation.

Party’s senior spokesperson Satyavrat Chaturvedi said “the Congress will not attend the special GST meeting on GST implementation.”

The decision came after Congress President Sonia Gandhi met former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh along with other leaders on Thursday.

The party has been in a dilemma over attending the special midnight event in Parliament on June 30 to mark the implementation of goods and services tax and has had wide-ranging discussions with other parties also, which are likely to follow suit.

Trinamool Congress has already announced its decision to boycott the event.

Sources said Congress leaders weighed its options as a group within the party felt that the GST was the party’s brainchild that has been now taken over by the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party, and thus favoured attending the special meeting.

However, some leaders opposing it 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.

Sources also say that the Congress was apparently irked with Modi trying to emulate India’s first Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru’s midnight “tryst with destiny” speech on the eve of Independence.

The Communist Party of India would also skip the meeting as it accused the Centre of being in a hurry to launch it without heeding to appeals by sections of the concerned industry.

CPI General Secretary Suravaram Sudhakar Reddy said the party, after discussions with its MPs, decided to skip the meeting convened by the government.

The CPI currently has one member each in Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha.

“They (the government) are doing it in a hurry without giving proper time,” Reddy said.

He said the tax slabs under GST are much higher than earlier on things like shoes, slippers, clothes and textiles, all of which would now be costlier though there may be some goods whose prices would also come down.

“The government is not ready to heed to some of the appeals (of sections of the concerned industry), and they are going ahead in a hurry,” Reddy said.

He said that banking transactions, as also credit and debit card ones, have become costlier.

“Taking into consideration all this, we have decided to avoid the session,” Reddy said.

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 economy.

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.