The Congress on Wednesday accused Prime Minister Narendra Modi of hypocrisy, double-speak and dishonesty and said his hint of reducing taxes below 18 per cent for 99 per cent items comes out of political compulsions after the BJP's defeat in recent assembly elections.
Congress spokesperson Abhishek Singhvi said that the prime minister earlier poked fun at Rahul Gandhi when he suggested 'one nation, one tax' and capping of taxes at 18 per cent tax under the Goods and Services Tax (GST).
"Modiji termed Rahul Gandhi's demand for a 18 pc (or less) GST rate as 'Grand Stupid Thought', but the three state electoral losses forced him to apply the same. Doublespeak, duplicity, dishonesty of PM Modi and Finance Minister Arun Jaitley is now out in the open.
"100 days are left for the Lok Sabha elections to take place, and PM Modi has suddenly woken up to the fact that the GST implemented by his Government is poorly implemented," he told reporters.
Singhvi said the Congress party which is the original proponent of the GST, has been hammering the fact from day one, that the GST implemented by the Modi government is not 'One Nation, One Tax' but 'One Nation Seven Taxes' with rates of 0.25 pc, 3 pc, 5 pc, 12 pc, 18 pc, 28 pc and 40 pc (which was later shelved) and possibly more.
He said the Congress chief has been at the forefront of demanding a single tax rate for GST, not exceeding 18 pc, but Modi government did not listen to the voice of people.
"After a deep slumber and when the alarm bells for the BJP have started ringing in the Hindi heartland, PM Modi has suddenly woken up. In a media conclave, yesterday, he has 'hinted' that 99 pc of all items would be taxed at 18 pc or at less. This is still a 'hint' and not a 'decision'," he said.
He said Since the rollout of GST from July 1 last year, under a 'mighnight drama' in Parliament, the GST Council has undertaken four rounds of rate rationalisation and thanks to Gujarat polls, the GST rates on many items were reduced from 28 to 18 pc, "after the government was forced to heed the advice of the Congress party and experts on flaws in GST".
The Congress leader also said that the Chief Economic Adviser to the government had clearly recommended a GST rate of 15-15.5 per cent and demonstrated that it was a revenue neutral rate, but that "an arrogant Modi Government, drunk with power, refused to heed to its own CEA".
Singhvi also cited various statements of the prime minister and union ministers Jaitley and Piyush Goyal against Congress leaders on the GST.
"We want to ask Arun Jaitley as to what changed in the past 5 months, that now the Modi Government is forced to adopt the 'flawed idea' of Single Tax Rate? Was it the absolute drubbing they received from the hands of the electorate in 5 states or was something else?
"In July, this year, PM Modi exhorted that 'Milk, Mercedes can't be taxed at single GST rate'....We want to ask PM Modi, what forced this stupendous reversal and roll back," he said.
Singhvi also said that on November 29, 2017, during the Gujarat poll campaign, PM Modi made a remark saying Congress President Rahul Gandhi's demand for a single tax rate in GST is "Grand Stupid Though'.
"Acronym Expert, Modiji is however not an 'economic expert'. Yesterday he was almost forced to concede to Shri Rahul Gandhi's demand.
"'Modi-nomics' is the art of back stabbing people with flawed economic decisions, ruining their livelihood with unwitting announcements, stealing their jobs with economic mismanagement and forcing the small businesses to shut down by unleashing economic anarchy," he said.
Pointing to a survey by the All India Manufacturers' Organisation (AIMO) that there have been steady job loss and declining profits since 2014 and demonetisation and roll-out of GST responsible for it, he claimed it underlines the job loss were reported at the rate of 43 pc in the trader segment, micro-segments reported job losses of 32 pc, small segments reported 35 pc and medium-scale industries reported 24 pc job losses.
"This is PM Modi's legacy of economic mismanagement and jumlas," the Congress leader said, adding that "it is time for them to go for politics of doling out poll lollypops, but people understand this double-speak and hypocrisy".
Meanwhile, Congress leader P Chidambaram Wednesday said "belated wisdon" has dawned on the Modi government, as he accused it of "unscrambling" the egg after having "scrambled the egg needlessly when GST was introduced".
"Government says 99% of goods will be at 18 per cent GST. Belated wisdom. We should have started with 18 per cent as the standard rate.
"Having scrambled the egg needlessly when GST was introduced, Government is trying to unscramble it! Typical of NDA.
"BJP/NDA governance mantra is 'Leap before you look'. Which is the reason for the damage caused by GST to businesses, especially MSMEs," he said on Twitter.
(This story has not been edited by Devdiscourse staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)