Opposition to use GST launch event to highlight shortcomings of Modi govt

Opposition to use GST launch event to highlight shortcomings of Modi govt

Opposition to use GST launch event to highlight shortcomings of Modi govt

They swear by the Goods and Services Tax (GST) but the Opposition parties see its midnight launch as another platform to highlight the "inability" of the Narendra Modi government in addressing crucial concerns, including in agriculture sector.

Their decision to skip the midnight launch of the new tax regime at the Parliament's Central Hall, an event that has strong symbolism attached to the freedom struggle, came amidst protests in several places across the country.

"We cannot attend such events of celebrations when people are agitating over the GST. We decided not to attend because the government is in a haste and not addressing the concerns on a variety of issues," CPI leader D Raja told DH.

Sources said the opposition expect problems in the implementation of the tax regime that could fan anger against the government and they should be prepared to tap it. They also feel their “boycott” would not go against them, as they plan to present it as part of their protest against a variety of issues, including farmers' suicide, lynching, price rise and unemployment.

The jarring note for the Opposition was the decision by Sharad Pawar-led NCP and the decision of JD(S) chief and former Prime Minister H D Deve Gowda to attend the function. Samajwadi Party also decided to attend the function despite its opposition to GST, saying they do not want to create controversy since the President is attending.

Prior to the event itself, parties like Congress, Trinamool Congress, DMK, RJD and Left parties have said they would not attend the programme. Some of the parties like CPI(M) are not using the word boycott to describe their absence but said their members are unlikely to attend.

Like Congress, JD(U), which had broke ranks with the Opposition over Presidential polls, also has expressed its annoyance over the government choosing the Central Hall to launch the scheme. They cite that there were only three meetings held at Central Hall at midnight and all were linked to independence – in 1947, 1972 (silver jubilee of independence) and 1997 (golden jubilee).

However, JD(U) has said it would send a minister for the programme while Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar and senior leader Sharad Yadav would give the event a miss. CPI(M) had also given Asim Dasgupta, former West Bengal Finance Minister and first Chairman of Empowered Committee on GST, permission to attend the function while others will give a miss.

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