Congress president Rahul Gandhi on Thursday said changes will be made to the Goods and Services Tax (GST) to reduce rates on items, if his party comes to power.
On a visit to various places in poll-bound Madhya Pradesh, he also continued his attack on Prime Minister Narendra Modi over the Rafale fighter deal, alleging that “the watchman has indulged in theft.”
Mr. Gandhi, who began his two-day tour of Madhya Pradesh, was addressing a gathering after visiting the famous Kamta Nath temple in this religious town associated with Lord Rama.
He said the Mr. Modi government has “destroyed” small businesses and employment through demonetisation and ‘Gabbar Singh Tax’, a reference to GST.
“As soon as we come to power, we will change the ‘Gabbar Singh Tax’ into the real tax. We will implement one tax at lowest rates,” the Congress leader said.
He said all power would be used to generate employment.
GST, which brought a one-tax regime in the country, was rolled out last year.
Turning to the Rafale deal, Mr. Gandhi said, “Hindustan ke chowkidar ne chori kar li hai” (India’s watchman has indulged in theft).”
His reference was clearly to Mr. Modi who had said that he would be the country’s ‘chowkidar’ in his capacity as the prime minister.
“The man, who claims to be the country’s watchman, has himself put ₹30,000 crore in the pocket of [industrialist] Anil Ambani in the Rafale deal,” Mr. Gandhi claimed.
Describing Anil Ambani as Mr. Modi’s “friend”, the Congress leader alleged that the industrialist has a debt of ₹45,000 crore.
He claimed that Anil Ambani had not manufactured even a single aircraft but was awarded a contract of ₹30,000-crore after “snatching” the work from state-owned Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL).
“The ‘chowkidar’ took out the money from the pockets of the poor, the youth and other people and put it into the pocket of Ambani… This money belongs to the people of the country,” Mr. Gandhi alleged.
Mr. Ambani has already rejected Mr. Gandhi’s allegations and emphasised that the government had no role in the Rafale-manufacturer French company Dassault picking up his company as a local partner.
He had written to Mr. Gandhi on December 12, 2017, refuting allegations of his Reliance Group lacking experience to get the Rafale fighter jet deal.
He had written that Reliance Defence has the largest shipyard in the private sector at Pipavav in Gujarat and is currently building five Naval Offshore Patrol Vessels (NOPVs) for the Indian Navy and 14 Fast Patrol Vessels for the Indian Coast Guard.
In his speech, Mr. Gandhi also accused Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman of speaking untruth on the Rafale deal issue.
“In Parliament, the Defence Minister said the price of Rafale fighter plane can’t be disclosed due to secret pact. I met the French President, who said there is no such pact and the price can be disclosed,” the Congress chief said.
The Prime Minister also spoke for one-and-a-half hour in Parliament but did not talk about Rafale issue, he added.
Mr. Gandhi also reiterated his promise of waiving the farmers’ loan within ten days, if elected to power in Madhya Pradesh.
Earlier, he reached Chitrakoot from Allahabad by a helicopter and visited the Kamta Nath temple where he performed ‘puja’
The temple is located in the forested hills of Kamadgiri where, according to mythology, Lord Rama stayed during his exile.
The 48-year-old Amethi MP was accompanied by Madhya Pradesh Congress president Kamal Nath, state party campaign committee chairman Jyotiraditya Scindia and Leader of Opposition in MP Assembly Ajay Singh.
Senior party leader from the state Digvijaya Singh was conspicuous by his absence.
The visit is part of the Congress’ campaign for the Assembly polls in Madhya Pradesh due later this year.
The Congress has been out of power in Madhya Pradesh since 2003.
During his earlier visit on September 17, Mr. Gandhi held a roadshow in Bhopal after performing a puja and taking blessings from 11 priests.