NEW DELHI: As decided, the Congress missed the historic moment of launch of GST at midnight, while the Samajwadi Party and NCP preferred to join the massive celebration. The JD (U), which broke ranks with the Opposition on the President’s election, also registered its presence.
Many expected the former PM Manmohan Singh to attend the event but he was not seen as Congress had already made it clear that there is no possibility of reconsidering the decision to boycott the special midnight meeting to launch GST. PJ Kurien was seen attending the session, but as deputy chair of the house, it was difficult for him to follow his party's decision to boycott. Former PM H D Deve Gowda was seen sitting with the PM.
Earlier during the day, Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi, currently abroad on a holiday, dubbed the implementation of GST as a ‘tamasha’ and said that the reform was being rushed through in a "half-baked" manner as a ‘self-promotional spectacle’.
“A reform that holds great potential is being rushed through in a half-baked way with a self-promotional spectacle #GSTTamasha,” he said on Twitter.
“But like demonetisation, GST is being executed by an incompetent and insensitive government without planning, foresight and institutional readiness,” Gandhi further tweeted.
Gandhi’s tweets come a day after the Congress announced its boycott of the midnight GST launch event by the government at the Central Hall of Parliament tonight.
The Congress decided to stay away from the event on grounds that a taxation reform could not be equated to midnight celebrations of Indian Independence the Central Hall has seen on August 15, 1947, and later, on 50 years of freedom in 1972 followed by the celebration of the Golden jubilee of Independence in 1997.
Senior party leader Anand Sharma said, “In 1971, India tasted victory when Bangladesh got independence and Pakistan's Army had surrendered that time...Indira Gandhi had not called a midnight Parliament session…Nuclear experiment happened, India made its mark in space, economic reforms took place, several major things happened. But when this was not done ever before why do it now.” Sharma also referred to union minister M Venkaiah Naidu's reiteration of the government's invitation to attend the event. “This is not a minor issue that the government will request and just few hours before the event a major opposition party will amend its decision. Keeping in mind Parliament's decorum and country's tradition, we have decided not to participate in the celebration,” he added.
Earlier Naidu had said in the morning, “It is unfortunate because they are distancing themselves from a process of reformation. I hope they will realise it by the evening and rethink and join us in the Central Hall.”
Besides the Congress, TMC led by Mamata Banerjee, Rashtriya Janata Dal and the DMK have also announced that they will skip the event. The Left parties have termed the meeting an unnecessary exercise. CPI(M) general secretary Sitaram Yechury has questioned the government on hurrying into introducing GST and recalled that the ruling BJP had opposed the system when it was in the Opposition.
However, the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) on Friday broke ranks with the opposition on GST, stating that it would attend the government's midnight launch of the GST regime tonight.
“All parties unanimously passed #GST in parliament. State Governments of different parties approved the rates. #gstrollout #GSTTamasha. Now why so much fuss over the launch function," tweeted Praful Patel of the NCP.