Former prime minister Manmohan Singh (left) with Prime Minister Narendra Modi (right). (Photo: Reuters)

Manmohan Singh Skips GST Launch Event Owing To Congress’ Boycott

  • Former PM Manmohan Singh skips GST launch event
  • Congress, TMC choose to boycott the event
  • Former PM HD Deve Gowda was accorded a place on the dais
  • Others to attend the launch include President Pranab Mukherjee, Vice-President Hamid Ansari and Lok Sabha Speaker Sumitra Mahajan

Ex-PM Manmohan Singh Skips Launch Event

Former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has skipped the launch event of GST, owing to Congress' boycott of the ceremony.

Congress Rajya Sabha MP from Telangana Ananda Bhaskar Rapolu protested against GST in front of the Gandhi statue in the Parliament complex.

Those attending the event included another former PM, HD Deve Gowda, who was accorded a place on the dais.

Others to attend the launch include President Pranab Mukherjee, Vice-President Hamid Ansari and Lok Sabha Speaker Sumitra Mahajan, besides Bollywood superstar Amitabh Bachchan and legendary singer Lata Mangeshkar.

Venkaiah Naidu Tells Parties Not to Politicise GST

Union Urban Development Minister Venkaiah Naidu on Friday advised political parties not to politicise the GST, saying the country was bound to benefit hugely from the tax initiative in the long run. Naidu said at a press conference in Dehradun:

The long-term effects of the GST will be highly beneficial for the country’s economy but it may have initial, short-term negative effects on inflation and the GDP.

Requesting people not to panic about the effects of GST, he asked them to be prepared for it. Naidu also said:

Except for tax evaders, no one needs to panic about GST. I want to ask people to suffer its initial effects along with us for long-term gains and benefits.

SP to Decide on GST Support on Friday

The Samajwadi Party did not show its hand on the issue of supporting the Goods and Services Tax (GST) in Parliament on Friday.

“Whether we will attend the midnight GST launch tomorrow will be known tomorrow only. We will take a decision in this regard tomorrow,” SP leader and Rajya Sabha MP Naresh Agarwal told PTI.

Agarwal went to say that the SP was opposed to the GST, and would not support it.

GST is a black law and it will be similar to re- establishment of the East India Company in the country.
Naresh Agarwal

Arun Jaitley Urges Opposition to Attend GST Launch

Finance Minister Arun Jaitley today appealed to the Congress and Left parties to reconsider their decision to boycott the gala GST launch event, saying the landmark indirect tax reform was a result of joint decisions and they cannot run away from it now.

Hundreds of decisions on GST including rules as also the tax rates were taken by consensus in the GST Council which comprises of not just the Centre but also representatives of all states run by different political parties, he said. As quoted by PTI, Jaitley said:

I can say this without fear of contradiction that there has never been this (kind of) exercise, of this kind of political consultation and political consensus in bringing the GST.
Jaitley added that every government has been equal participant in the decision and no one can through “a symbolic political gesture can disassociate with it”.

GST, he said, is in the national interest. “Every political party should have the courage to own up a reform for which they had voted for,” said Jaitley.

Jaitley hoped that the parties which have decided not to participate in the inaugural function will reconsider their positions.

RJD and JDU Divided On Attending GST Midnight Launch

HD Deve Gowda of the Janata Dal-Secular has confirmed that he will attend the midnight GST launch at the Parliament, reported NDTV. Nitish Kumar too has confirmed his party, the Janata Dal United’s (JDU) presence at the GST midnight rollout.

However, Kumar’s alliance partner, Lalu Prasad Yadav’s Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) has announced that it will boycott the event. It is speculated that these opposing moves may cause a rift between the JDU and the RJD.

Ex-PM Dr Manmohan Singh to Skip Midnight GST Launch

Ex-Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh will not be attending the Centre’s midnight GST rollout at the Parliament’s Central Hall as his party has declared its boycott of the event. Another ex-PM to be invited to share the stage with incumbent PM Narendra Modi and President Pranab Mukherjee at this “historic” event is HD Deve Gowda of the Janata Dal-Secular. Dr Manmohan Singh tweeted earlier today:

Congress Addresses the Media on GST

Congress Leaders Call GST a Publicity Stunt

Congress leaders Ghulam Nabi Azad, Mallikarjun Kharge and Anand Sharma, in a press address this evening, spoke out against the Parliament’s midnight launch of the GST, calling it a “tamasha” and a “publicity stunt.” According to the Opposition party, more important issues need to be addressed by the ruling party at the Centre, such as violence against women, Dalits and other marginalised groups, unemployment among the youth, etc.

Azad called out the BJP for “sleeping” and turning a blind eye to these key issues, and at the same time praised sections of the media and the general public who participated and covered the “Not in my name” country-wide protest on Wednesday.

Having said this, Azad clearly stated that the Congress would not be attending the GST midnight rollout at the Parliament, as it simply did not want to be associated with what it believes is a “sham”. He told the press:

This midnight spectacle, ignoring the harsh realities of India – farmers’ distress, violence, unemployment etc [...] – we cannot be party to such a tamasha (drama) [...]

CPI Likely to Boycott Midnight GST Launch

Joining the Congress and Mamata Banerjee’s party TMC, the Communist Party of India (CPI) will also skip the special midnight meeting tomorrow on GST implementation, as it accused the Centre of being in a hurry to launch it without heeding to appeals by sections of the concerned industries.

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. Airing his party's concerns on the Goods and Services Tax (GST) Reddy told PTI:

They (the government) are doing it in a hurry without giving proper time.

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. Reddy also said that banking transactions, as also credit and debit card ones, have become costlier. PTI quoted him as saying:

Taking into consideration all this, we have decided to avoid the session.

DMK Follows Congress, Decides to Skip GST session

Following Congress’ footsteps, Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) too has decided to skip the midnight GST session, reported Times Now.

Congress to Boycott GST Session

Congress has decided to not attend midnight session convened to mark the GST implementation on 30 June in Parliament, said Rajya Sabha MP Satyavrat Chaturvedi.

This development comes despite the NDA having invited Manmohan Singh to share the stage with PM Narendra Modi at the session.

Sonia Meets Manmohan Singh

Congress president Sonia Gandhi is holding a meeting with former prime minister Manmohan Singh to discuss the party’s stance on attending the midnight session of Parliament convened to mark Goods and Services Tax launch.

Singh has reportedly been invited by the BJP government to join Prime Minister Narendra Modi and President Pranab Mukerjee at the high table during the session.

Congress to Take Stance on Midnight GST Session

Congress party is likely to brief the media at 4 pm today regarding their stance on the midnight session of Parliament called to mark the implementation of Goods and Services Tax on 30 June.

Senior Congress leaders including Ghulam N Azad, Mallikarjun Kharge, Anand Sharma, Jairam Ramesh and Randeep Surjewala are expected to be present during the briefing.

Former prime minister Manmohan Singh who was invited by the government to be a part of the high table, along with prime minister Narendra Modi and President Pranab Mukerjee has not yet sent his RSVP, reported NDTV.

Congress Undecided Over Attending GST Launch

The Congress appears undecided over attending the special midnight function in Parliament house on 30 June to mark the implementation of Goods and Services Tax (GST) and a final decision is expected on Thursday, party sources said.

They said senior Congress leaders met at the residence of party chief Sonia Gandhi on Wednesday evening and discussed the issue.

They said final decision would be taken by her on Thursday.

PMO Refuses to Share Specifics of Modi's GST Meet

The Prime Minister's Office (PMO) has refused to share information about a meeting chaired by Narendra Modi on the Goods and Services Tax (GST), saying it would affect the country's "economic interests".

It was asked, through an RTI application, to provide a copy of the minutes of the meeting held on 5 June. The meeting was attended by secretaries of central government departments and other officers concerned. The PMO said in response to the RTI query filed by a PTI correspondent:

Since the request of the applicant is related to the economic interest of the State, the same is exempted from disclosure under Section 8 (1) (a) of the RTI Act.
The section bars “information, disclosure of which would prejudicially affect the sovereignty and integrity of India, the security, strategic, scientific or economic interests of the State, relation with foreign State or lead to incitement of an offence”.

GST Marks a Turning Point in India's history, Says Modi

A PMO statement issued after the 5 June meeting had quoted Prime Minister Narendra Modi as saying:

The advent of the GST on 1 July marks a turning point in the country’s history.

PM Modi asked the secretaries to proactively prepare for this transformation to ensure a smooth transition, it had said. The statement also claimed:

The prime minister said the world is looking at India differently today, and this is a unique opportunity which should not be missed. Let us build mechanisms to meet global expectations, he asked the secretaries.

TMC Boycotts Midnight Programme to Mark GST RollOut

In a bid to protest the Centre’s move to launch the GST on 1 July, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee’s party, the Trinamool Congress, will not attend the midnight programme to mark the GST roll-out in Parliament on 30 June. As quoted by IANS, Banerjee said:

Our Parliamentary Party has decided not to attend the 30 June midnight programme [...] as a mark of protest.

Business Community "Scared and Confused," says Mamata

The West Bengal CM said that the decision to implement the new tax reform had left the entire business community, especially the small and medium ones, scared and confused. According to IANS, Banerjee said:

Only 60 hours are left before this ill-planned launch and no one knows for sure what’s happening!

Bengal the "Lone Voice and Conscience" of the GST Council, Says Mamata

Banerjee also pointed out that essential goods like medicines were not available in many places and that prices of various goods were increasing due to “lack of clarity and mismanagement.” She said that West Bengal was often the “lone voice and conscience” of the GST Council.

Taking a dig at the BJP, Banerjee said:

The current ruling party at the Centre had initially strongly opposed GST for over 7 years and suddenly did a somersault on coming to office as a champion of GST.

Economy Not Ready to Face GST From 1 July

Banerjee said that the economy is not yet ready to face the GST from 1 July. The 3-day strike declared by the textile industries in the country was the evidence of "our deep concerns on the lack of preparedness". The Bengal CM also claimed that small businesses were not prepared with basic requirements like invoices, accounting systems, IT systems, etc.

Another piece of evidence of unpreparedness comes from the fact that the 'Return Form' had to be simplified for the first 6 months as all systems are not in place.

It is shocking that the e-Waybill System is not yet designed and states are being asked to run their own systems as a stopgap arrangement.
Mamata Banerjee, Chief Minister, West Bengal

According to Banerjee, at least six months will be required to notify all the rules and processes and give enough time to the stakeholders for a smooth and effective GST rollout.

If ample time is not given, especially to small and medium-sized business entities, Banerjee fears chaos may ensue in the economy, for which the “Government of India will be primarily responsible.”

West Bengal CM Opposes GST

Mamata Banerjee on Wednesday said that this hasty decision on the part of the Centre would be yet another mistake after demonetisation. As quoted by IANS, Banerjee said:

We are deeply concerned about the GST implementation. After demonetisation, this unnecessary disastrous hurry is another epic blunder [...]. 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.

TMC's Suggestions Have Fallen on Deaf Ears, Says Mamata

In a Facebook post, the West Bengal CM said that her party, the Trinamool Congress’ persistent advice to the Centre, to take “some more time” to launch the GST had “fallen on deaf ears.”

(With inputs from IANS and PTI)