JALANDHAR: After his remarks criticising delay in passage of GST Bill raised eyebrows, Congress leader Amarinder Singh today said he took the stand as the new law would help Punjab and denied having any differences with the party high command.
However, Union Minister Harsimrat Kaur took a jibe at the Congress leader, saying he would have done more service to the state had he supported the Bill in Parliament when his party was disrupting proceedings, instead of remaining absent, and should now convince the top Congress leadership.
"Different issues crop up at state and central levels at the same time and our response and stand depend on our respective priorities," Amarinder said on his remarks, while emphasising that the GST was important for "debt ridden" Punjab as it will help in generation of extra revenue.
At the same time, he clarified that the Congress party had valid reason to stall the proceedings in Parliament as it wanted removal of "tainted" leaders of the BJP.
On August 14, Amarinder had expressed displeasure over the delay in introduction and passage of the GST Bill, saying Punjab will be the "worst sufferer".
He was here to attend the 'bhog' ceremony of senior party leader Chaudhary Jagjit Singh here today.
He said the passage of the GST Bill was very important for Punjab which is reeling under a debt of Rs 1.25 lakh crore and the state was "not in a position" to meet its statutory obligations.
He said once GST is in place, Punjab's revenue will jump considerably.
"My saying something while keeping in view the interest of Punjab does not mean I have any differences with my high command," he clarified, and said issues and priorities between Centre and the State differ at times.
Meanwhile, Union Food Processing Industry Minister Harsimrat Kaur Badal in a statement today congratulated Amarinder Singh for taking a stand in favour of the GST Bill.
"I welcome your belated support to the GST Bill. It puzzles me why you did not attend Parliament and speak in favour of the bill. There is also speculation that you have spoken in favour of GST to spite the Congress high command which is denying you leadership of the state unit," the Shiromani Akali Dal leader said.
The Union minister said Amarinder could write an open letter to Congress leaders Sonia and Rahul Gandhi explaining how introduction of GST would spur growth and boost the economy.
"Probably the Gandhis who have yet to come to terms with their 2014 rout will understand the sage advice of a senior colleague. You will also be doing singular service to Punjab and the country by this act," Badal added.
To a question about Chief Parliamentary Secretary Navjot Kaur Sidhu's hunger strike in Amritsar to press for her demands, the Amritsar MP said he completely agreed with her.
"In fact it is not only the BJP MLAs even those from the Akali Dal have to resort to protests and dharnas against the discrimination they are meted out," he alleged.
Amarinder also said that he had never met any of the BJP leaders including its President Amit Shah.
On question of Badal accusing him of spreading rumours about several Akali legislators keen to join Congress, the former Chief Minister said it reflected his ignorance.
"The matter of the fact is that not only some Akali legislators but senior Jathedars are also in touch with us and asking us to get rid of the Badals at the earliest as they had destroyed Punjab," he claimed.
The former chief minister claimed that Akali leaders, legislators and workers were "totally disillusioned with the Badals".