A supporter of India's ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) holds a placard during a rally to support implementation of the Goods and Services Tax (GST) in Mumbai, India, June 30, 2017.Reuters
When the BJP and the central government is making all efforts to defend the implementation of Goods and Services Tax (GST), a BJP minister from Madhya Pradesh has apparently admitted that the new tax regime is a tough nut to crack even for chartered accountants.
"GST mai khud hi nahi samajh paa raha hoon, to iss sambandh mein nahi bolunga. Bade bade CA nahin samajh paa rahe hain, vyapari nahin samajh paa rahe hain, (I myself, am not able to understand GST, so I will not comment on it. Many chartered accountants and traders are also not able to understand it)," Om Prakash Dhurve, minister for food and civil supplies, Madhya Pradesh reportedly said at a public meeting in Umariya on November 10, Friday.
"Samajh samajh ka khel hai. Dheere dheere jab samajh jaayenge to bohot sukoon milega, acha lagega (Gradually, when we understand GST it will bring a lot of relief)," were the words of Om Prakash Dhurve, BJP and Madhya Pradesh food and supplies minister in Umariya on November 10, Friday.
The speech by the BJP leader in which he admitted that he had not yet understood the GST reform, invited tittering from the audience at the public event. He was supposed to address the people on behalf of Bharatiya Janata Party and defend the reform.
The opposition Congress, by all likelyhood, will take Dhurve's comments on GST as a powerful weapon against the BJP and it might be used against the party in the MP assembly polls next year.
Many leaders from the opposition have targeted the Centre over the twin reforms of demonetization and GST. Earlier in one of his rallies in Gujarat, the Congress vice president, Rahul Gandhi had termed the GST reform as Gabbar Singh Tax and slammed the Modi government for the sufferings of the small scale traders in India. "The Gabbar Singh Tax only meant that the poor who sweats sees his money being stolen from him," Gandhi had said.
Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley at the 21st GST Council meeting in Hyderabad on Sept 9, 2017. Also seen Union MoS Finance Shiv Pratap Shukla, Revenue Secretary Hasmukh Adhia and Chief Economic Adviser Arvind Subramanian.IANS
Finance Minister Arun Jaitley had reacted to Gandhi's Gabbar Singh jibe and said, "He (Rahul Gandhi) doesn't have any knowledge about the subject and the Congress was also a party to the decision."
"The government implemented the GST in haste with the highest tax slab of 28 per cent and a very complicated procedure of filing returns which has ruined businesses," the Congress vice president had further said.
"Bureaucratic and complex, it (GST) has devastated livelihoods, creating a modern day 'Licence Raj' that imposes rigid controls and gives vast powers to government officials," Gandhi had added.
Claiming to rejuvenate the GST, which is executed in a hurried manner, Gandhi had also said earlier that "We will completely change the GST after coming to power in 2019 to mitigate the sufferings of the people hit by it."
A supporter of India's main Congress party sits next to an effigy of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi during a protest against the implementation of the Goods and Services Tax (GST) in Kolkata, India July 2, 2017.Reuters
Meanwhile, the newly introduced GST reform has left even the ministers of the ruling BJP in a confusion. The comments from Dhurve are likely to be criticized by the BJP, as the war of words ahead of 2017 Gujarat elections is underway, the Congress has not missed on any opportunity to accuse BJP of scams and fraud.