After TMC, Congress decides to skip midnight GST launch

RSTV Bureau
FILE: New Delhi: Congress top leaders President Sonia Gandhi, and Former PM Manmohan Singh at Rashtrapati Bhavan after meeting the President Pranab Mukherjee, December 16, 2016. Photo - PTI

FILE: New Delhi: Congress top leaders President Sonia Gandhi, and Former PM Manmohan Singh at Rashtrapati Bhavan after meeting the President Pranab Mukherjee, December 16, 2016.
Photo – PTI

The Congress has decided to stay away from the special midnight event on June 30 to mark the launch of Goods and Services Tax.

“The Congress will not attend the special GST meeting on GST implementation,” said party spokesperson Satyavrat Chaturvedi on Thursday.

The decision was taken after Congress President Sonia Gandhi met former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh along with other leaders.

Just two days ago, Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee had called July 1 launch an ‘epic blunder’ and decided that her party was officially boycotting the launch event in Parliament.

Sources said Congress leaders weighed its options as a group within the party felt that the GST was the party’s brainchild that has been now taken over by the ruling BJP, and thus favoured attending the special meeting.

However, some leaders opposing it felt that the GST was being implemented in a haste and all aspects have not been taken into consideration leading to harassment of small traders and  businessmen and thus, the party should abstain.

Sources also said that the Congress was apparently irked with Modi trying to emulate India’s first Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru’s midnight “tryst with destiny” speech on the eve of Independence.

The Left leaders are also not very keen on attending the event. CPI(M) general secretary Sitaram Yechury had earlier questioned the government on “hurrying” into introducing GST and recalled that the ruling BJP had opposed the system when it was in the opposition.

The new tax regime is scheduled to be launched from Parliament’s Central Hall. A gong will be sounded at midnight to usher in the GST. Prime Minister Narendra Modi is said to be the key speaker at the function.

President Pranab Mukherjee is also likely to attend the function, where former Prime Ministers Manmohan Singh and HD Deve Gowda have also been invited.

(With inputs from PTI)