Claiming victory for reduction of GST rates on more than 200 items, Congress Vice-President Rahul Gandhi on Saturday said his party will continue the fight for capping the tax at 18 per cent and promised the Congress will do it if the BJP government fails.
Keeping up the attack on the government on the issue, Gandhi, who is on his fourth visit to Gujarat, said the decision to slash the GST on the majority of the items was a good one. "It is good that the Congress party and the people of this country pressurised BJP to bring down many items from 28 per cent bracket to 18 per cent. However, we are not happy and we shall not stop. India does not need five different taxes but one tax. GST needs structural change."
Earlier in a tweet, Gandhi said:
India does not need a Gabbar Singh Tax. We want a true GST. 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.— Office of RG (@OfficeOfRG) November 11, 2017
"Congress and people of the country fought to lower the 28 per cent GST rate on many items. Our struggle for 18 per cent cap will continue. If the BJP will not do this, Congress will do it," Gandhi said.
In New Delhi, the Congress party demanded that petroleum products, real estate and electricity be brought under the tax's ambit.
The party also said that "Prime Minister Narendra Modi's Gabbar Singh Tax is shrewdly designed" to help his wealthy friends but hurts millions of small traders.
On Friday, the GST Council slashed the tax rates on 178 goods from 28 per cent to 18 per cent and reduced the rates on several other items.
Gandhi's claim that the government was forced by the Congress to roll back the GST rates was criticised by the government with Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman asking, "Is the GST Council under them?"
She also said the party should first finalise its stand on the tax regime.
"Congress wants to take credit on GST, and being in opposition they also want to say that government took action because of them. They should decide what is their position," Sitharaman said at a press conference here.
"The GST Council was formed, and all state Finance Ministers are a part of it. The Finance Minister (Arun Jaitley) might be the chairman, but all states are there and their issues were raised. If someone was dissatisfied, we being a sensitive government were forthcoming in making changes. We did it for the people."
"Now they are feeling the government has done everything, what is the role of opposition. So they are saying both things. Congress wants to be both good cop and bad cop. They should take a stand on it," the Minister, who is campaigning in the state for the assembly elections, said.
Earlier, on his arrival at Ahmedabad airport, Gandhi said, "The people of Gujarat are unhappy with the present government, especially after the twin blows of demonetisation and the Goods and Services Tax (GST) implementation."
The state goes to polls next month on December 9 and 14. Gandhi, who is visiting north Gujarat, the BJP bastion over the years, is on a three-day visit to the state.
Alpesh Thakore, leader of the Other Backward Castes (OBC), Scheduled Caste (SC) and Scheduled Tribe (ST), OSS Ekta Manch, who has been inducted in the grand old party's Gujarat unit, is accompanying Gandhi during his visit.
Thakore said at a gathering in Prantij, "BJP will scare you, fool you. Then Modiji will come, cry for Gujarat pride. Don't get carried away this time."
At other places during his visit to the places in the region like Idar and Himmatnagar, Gandhi continued his attacks on Prime Minister Modi over Amit Shah's son Jay's company allegedly registering 16,000 times turnover in one year. He said, "Modiji Kuch Toh Boliye (Modiji, please say something)."
He said, "The government which can tell the people of the country at 8 pm that their currency will turn into scrap in just four hours, doesn't know what's in the hearts of the people. We gave Rs 35,000 crore for the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Agency (MNREGA), but Modi gave Rs 35,000 crore to Tata Nano project."
In the morning, Gandhi began his tour of north Gujarat by praying at the revered Akshardham temple, an unscheduled change in his plan, and visited the Patidar-dominated villages of the region.