Response to Rahul yatras in Gujarat forced GST cuts, says Congress.
It reflects Modi's willingness to listen, says BJP.
The Congress on Saturday, November 11, claimed credit for the GST council's decision to cut tax rates on 178 items of daily use, saying the government was forced to do so due to the pressure mounted by party Vice-President Rahul Gandhi and the 'huge response' his campaign had been receiving in poll-bound Gujarat.
Meanwhile, Union Minister Dr Jitendra Singh said that the GST rejig reflects the Modi government's 'sensitivity' and it has no hesitation in accepting inputs as the new taxation system is meant for the benefit of the people.
Leading the charge against the government on the goods and services tax, Gandhi said the Congress would continue to fight for a 18 per cent cap on the highest GST slab instead of the current 28 per cent, and vowed that the party would get the job done "if the ruling BJP doesn't".
He also reiterated that India needed a simple tax and not the "Gabbar Singh Tax" as he had been describing the tax regime to target the Modi government.
"As far as modifications made by the GST council are concerned, I think this is a reflection of the sensitivity with which the Prime Minister Narendra D Modi-led government works... this is the government which is open to inputs," Dr Singh, a minister of state in the Prime Minister's Office, told reporters in Jammu.
"As PM Modi has said, we are not here to run the government but to run the nation," he added.
The GST council's decision to cut tax rates is due to the pressure mounted by Rahul Gandhi and the 'huge response' he had been receiving in poll-bound Gujarat, Congress General Secretary Ashok Gehlot said.
Gujarat, Modi and Bharatiya Janata Party President Amit A Shah's home state, has been ruled by the BJP for over 20 years and the Congress is trying to oust it from power.
Congress leaders, particularly Rahul Gandhi, have made the GST and demonetisation as key issues of the party's campaign.
Gehlot, who is in charge of the Congress' Gujarat election campaign, felt the GST council brought about the changes in tax rates with an eye on the Gujarat election.
"It (the BJP) is rankled by trepidation that Gujarat will slip off its hands. That's why the rates were cut. The council did so because of the pressure Rahulji mounted and response his yatras in the state are getting," Gehlot said.
"The more he (Rahul Gandhi) comes (to Gujarat), the more the BJP gets consolidated in the state," Dr Singh said in Jammu. "The more he comes, the more the Congress leadership tends to expose its hollowness on various issues."
They (Congress leaders) were somehow "misguided" that they have the support or might get the support of certain communities or business sections, Dr Singh added, which they have realised is not true.
"They saw it happening in Surat the other day when Rahul Gandhi decided to visit a textile market and was greeted by slogans of 'Modi, Modi, Modi'," the minister said.
Randeep Singh Surjewala, the Congress' chief spokesperson, termed the GST council's move "installment-based tinkering" which he said underscored the "chaos within and adhocism" of the BJP-led central government.
'India does not need a Gabbar Singh Tax. We want a true GST. The Congress, along with the people of India, fought for and ensured reduction in items in 28% bracket. Next we will fight for one rate, with a cap at 18%. If BJP doesn't do it, Congress will,' Rahul Gandhi tweeted.
Surjewala demanded that petroleum products, real estate and electricity be brought under the GST's ambit.
He also called for reducing the "compliance burden" of the GST and added that the textile sector was faced with deep stress due to the "distorted duty structure".
"Adjournment and deferment, rather than decision, appear to be the 'way forward' for this government," Surjewala added.
"None of these challenges have been addressed by the council. This is owing to the sheer ineptitude and amateurish handling of the biggest tax reform by BJP the government."