Two days after the events at the Republic Summit where Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced that 99% of goods and services would soon fall under the 18%-or-less GST slab, Rahul Gandhi has made a desperate attempt to take credit.
Taking to Twitter, the Congress president said that the announcement had resulted from the Congress 'jolting the Prime Minister from a deep slumber'. He reiterated his Gabbar Singh Tax acronym attack and wrote:
The opposition leader's salvo at the Prime Minister, while carefully worded to be as high-decibel as possible, nonetheless serves as a tacit acknowledgement that the Congress' continual gripes over the implementation of GST no longer hold weight, which, following the Supreme Court's verdict on Rafale, takes away one more point of attack. While the party has consistently attempted to make political hay during what the government has essentially defended as teething trouble, there's no denying that even Rahul Gandhi has now been compelled to say something positive about GST.
What's more revealing in Rahul Gandhi's latest attack is the continuation of his recent trend toward hyper-populism. The Congress has signed off on farm-loan waivers in the three states in which it has recently formed governments -- Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh -- and has also promised more of the same as its main poll plank (so far) ahead of the 2019 Lok Sabha elections. Now, in GST's case, Rahul Gandhi has attempted to take credit for lowering taxes, something that is far less a matter of political tweeting and speech-making and much more about tax arithmetic, fiscal prudence and consensus building with the states.
The rollout of GST had been preceded by numerous meetings of the GST Council, where the Centre and states had come together to decide a formula by which states would not take a hit on their tax revenue because of the massive 'one country-one tax' reform. At the Republic Summit, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley also more than hinted that this was the reason why petroleum products haven't yet been integrated into GST -- because the states aren't yet confident that they won't lose out.