Rahul Gandhi has been attacking ‘chaos’ caused by GST in Gujarat
Former PM Manmohan Singh to meet Ahmedabad traders tomorrow
Dr Singh to reiterate charge of GST poorly implemented by PM Modi
The Congress, on Tuesday, hopes to considerably amplify boss Rahul Gandhi’s running attack on the new national sales tax with a visit to Ahmedabad by former Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh.
Dr Singh, a noted economist, will address a meeting of traders and businessmen that has been organised by the Congress in Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s home state, which is just weeks away from voting for its next government.
The BJP has held charge of Gujarat for nearly two decades. In an attempt to change that, Mr Gandhi has focused his public speeches while campaigning in Gujarat on deriding the GST or Goods and Services Tax, which he has vilified as the “Gabbar Singh Tax”, a moniker that invokes Bollywood’s biggest baddie ever.
Dr Singh will address representatives of small and medium businesses to further Mr Gandhi’s charge that the timing and implementation of the GST has torn a big hole through the earnings of traders.
The tax, which replaces a mesh of central and state tariffs, was conceived of by Dr Singh’s government when it was in power. Mr Gandhi has said that it has merits as a key reform, but that its hurried and unwieldy roll-out thumped traders with complicated filing systems and unclear, multi-rate rules that are still being tweaked.
The Congress, led by Mr Gandhi, has underscored the driving effect of the GST and PM Modi’s year-old shock ban of 86 per cent of the currency in circulation on impeding economic growth, which slowed to 5.7 per cent in the last quarter, the lowest in three years.
Dr Singh had last year warned that demonetisation could shave at least 2 percentage points off economic growth. After he termed it “organised loot and legalised plunder”, PM Modi retaliated with a speech in parliament that taunted his predecessor for “the art of taking a bath while wearing a raincoat” to accuse Dr Singh of permitting systemic corruption among his ministers while being considered a clean leader himself.
Mr Modi has used his public meetings in Gujarat to emphasize the long-term gains that are expected of demonetisation and the GST, and has said those who oppose them are weakening the cause of fighting corruption.