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To Attend or Not to Attend: Opposition in Dilemma Over Midnight GST Launch

The Centre’s grand plan to rollout GST at a special session of Parliament at midnight on June 30 is facing a road block from the Opposition. They are likely to skip the launch though a final call has still not been taken.

Pallavi Ghosh | CNN-News18pallavighcnnibn

Updated:June 28, 2017, 11:17 AM IST
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To Attend or Not to Attend: Opposition in Dilemma Over Midnight GST Launch
In this June 22 photo, Congress chief Sonia Gandhi, former PM Manmohan Singh, NCP chief Sharad Pawar, RJD supremo Lalu Prasad and other leaders pose for photographs after announcing former Lok Sabha speaker Meira Kumar as the opposition’s presidential nominee. (PTI)
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New Delhi: The Centre’s grand plan to rollout GST at a special session of Parliament at midnight on June 30 is facing a road block from the Opposition. They are likely to skip the launch though a final call has still not been taken.

The reason they have given is that opposition parties did not like the method of the invite. Sources from Trinamool Congress, the Left, and the Congress told News18 that the letter of invitation by parliamentary affairs minister Ananth Kumar was sent to all MPs individually. The norm, they say, is to address it to party leaders only.

Also, the last line of the letter reads, “It gives me great pleasure to request your gracious presence on the historical occasion of the launch of GST by the honourable Prime Minister, in the presence of the President of India.”

According to D Raja from CPI, the midnight session is just “drama” by the government. “It’s not a special session. It is yet another event management opportunity.” This opinion is echoed by the Left and the Congress as well.

But the Congress faces a dilemma as it has vociferously claimed that GST was its brainchild and is only being carried forward by the NDA government. Skipping the launch event would weaken this claim. Finance Minister Arun Jaitley has also sent a personal invite to former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, further complicating matters for the party.

ALSO READ: GST to Rollout on July 1; Two Slabs For Lottery, Hotel Rooms

Former finance minister P Chidambaram is in Chennai and won’t attend the special session. He had recently made fun of the government for trying to do a replay of Jawaharlal Nehru’s midnight tryst with destiny speech.

The other dilemma for Congress is the presence of President Pranab Mukherjee at the session. A boycott, they feel, could be seen as an insult. But a TMC leader said it was the BJP that insulted the President by not attending his iftaar party and they are in the clear.

The Opposition also has some plans to counter the grand plans of the BJP on GST. While most ministers will travel across the country to campaign for GST, Opposition leaders, too, will counter this by pointing out that its hurried implementation would add to the woes of the middle class and other people in the country.

However, they sense that they need to tread cautiously as too strong an opposition may be seen as being against reforms. A TMC leader said “We will expose the government for the drama it is doing and also how concerns of small kirana store owners and the poor has not been kept in mind.”

Given this cynicism within the opposition, it is likely they may skip the special session. After the blow to opposition unity following Nitish Kumar’s support to NDA presidential candidate, the opposition hopes that some unity can be restored by putting up a joint front against the special session.

ALSO READ: GST Bill Passed in Rajya Sabha: Five Things to Know About the Radical Tax Plan
| Edited by: Nitya Thirumalai
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