Prime Minister Narendra Modi pitched the goods and services tax bill as pro-poor and pro-consumer on Monday and shared credit of the landmark reform’s passage with all parties including the Congress, a rare show of bonhomie with the Opposition.
Intervening in the Lok Sabha during the debate on the 122nd Constitutional Amendment Bill – necessary for the GST – Modi said, “There has always a debate on who gave birth to Krishna and who brought him up. This is not a victory of any party. This is a victory of Indian democracy.”
“This could be done because of participation of earlier government and this government.”
He linked the passage of the GST with the August Kranti movement, which started on the same day in 1942. “Today is the day of August Kranti. On August 9, freedom fighters faced torture. We will remember this day as the GST will also make people free from tax terrorism,” said Modi.
He said GST will curb corruption and black money, stressing an important move to free the nation from tax terrorism has begun.
The PM dubbed the bill as a “Great step towards Transformation” and a “Great step towards transparency”. He also linked the passage of the GST with his poll slogan of Ek Bharat, Srestha Bharat. As the Lok Sabha united to pass the pan-national tax, doing away with myriad local levies, the PM said, “ek manch, ek march, ek manzil.”
While the PM repeatedly harped that no single party got the credit for the passage of the bill stuck in Parliament since 2011, Congress floor leader Mallikarjun Kharge quipped, “We are glad that what Modi could not understand as a chief minister, he could realize it as prime minister.” He was referring to the BJP’s resistance to the tax reform legislation during the UPA regime.
The GST aims to stitch together a common national market by replacing an array of state levies with a countrywide tax.
The bill, touted as the biggest financial reform since the economy was opened up 25 years ago, is expected to improve the ease of doing business in the world’s fastest-growing major economy and lower prices of many commodities.