On the day that the NDA government kick-started its ambitious Start-Up India mission, Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi lashed out at Prime Minister Narendra Modi, saying that there is a contradiction in pushing for startups and being intolerant, and that both cannot go together.
“The ruling dispensation, particularly the RSS, has a clear idea on what the world should look like. They have a vision for India, which in my opinion, is a very rigid vision. This country requires flexibility, openness and movement of ideas…There’s a huge contradiction in saying I want start ups but I will be intolerant, ” Gandhi said during an interaction with management students in Mumbai’s Vile Parle suburb.
Gandhi added that the country will fail on the economic and startup front if the government is intolerant.
“Startups require free movement of ideas”, Gandhi explained.
The Congress Vice President also accused the BJP of differentiating people on the basis of religion and sex.
When asked how India could provide a conducive atmosphere for startups, Gandhi blamed bureaucracy and red tape.
“Today, if you are a Rs. 10,000 crore company, you can’t easily get finance. If you are a big business, you can get around regulations and put pressure on politicians,” he said.
Gandhi didn’t just talk about startups, he also spoke about the ongoing row over the controversial Goods and Services Taxes (GST) Bill.
Gandhi claimed that the GST Bill can be passed “in just 15 minutes” if the Modi government accepts the conditions set by the Congress party.
“A compromise with the government is possible on GST. It is by sitting across the table, but the government is not taking it… The day the conditions are accepted, we will pass the GST. It will take just 15 minutes,” Gandhi claimed.
He also claimed that it was the BJP which had stalled the same GST legislation seven years ago, when the Congress had initiated the process to push it through.
“It was Congress which brought in the GST legislation. The BJP then stopped GST in Parliament for seven years. Jaitley then did not allow it to pass. Narendra Modi, as CM of Gujarat, did not allow GST to pass,” Gandhi alleged.
“Jaitley doesn’t have to tell me GST is good. I know it’s good. He doesn’t have to tell me it’s good…”We don’t want a GST where there’s no cap on taxes. We want a limitation on the maximum tax that can be charged. Also, dispute resolution must be fair and neutral. I don’t think it’s wrong of us to say that,” Gandhi said at the event.
The GST along with several other important bills remained pending in the Rajya Sabha in the Winter Session because the Opposition continuously stalled the proceedings of the House.
There are 3 sticking points on the issue of GST. First, the Congress wants a constitutional cap on the GST rate. Second, they demand the removal of 1 per cent additional tax on inter-state transfer of goods and third, they insist on a dispute resolution panel headed by a Supreme Court judge.
So far the government has agreed to only blink on the 1 per cent additional tax on inter-state transfer of goods. The other two sticking points remain.
However, the government still continues to maintain that the new tax regime will be implemented by the middle of 2016.
(With inputs from PTI)