The Congress party has said that the much talked about GST, as a concept, was pioneered by its leaders and BJP leaders, mainly then Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi, blocked the reform for years.
Former minister Jairam Ramesh today cited his meeting with then Leader of Opposition in the Lok Sabha Sushma Swaraj to argue how the BJP was always opposing the uniform tax even after the Congress-led UPA introduced the GST Bill in the Lok Sabha on March 22, 2011.
“When I asked Swaraj why the BJP was opposing GST, she said two BJP CMs — Narendra Modi and Shivraj Singh Chouhan — were opposing the Bill. She said efforts were being made to change their mind and that the BJP at some stage was prepared to override their objections,” Ramesh said, recalling that GST was first mentioned as a concept by then NDA Finance Minister Jaswant Singh in 2003.
On July 8, 2004, then FM P Chidambaram under the UPA mentioned GST in his Budget speech and repeated the concept in his 2005 Budget speech.
“It was on February 28, 2007, that the Finance Minister for the first-time ever said GST would roll out from April 1, 2010. On March 22, 2011, then FM Pranab Mukherjee introduced the GST Bill in the Lok Sabha. The Bill was referred to the Standing Committee on Finance headed by BJP’s Yashwant Sinha. The committee met after 15 months and submitted its report after two-and-a-half years on August 7, 2013. Then elections came and we were unable to bring a reworked Bill,” Ramesh said.
He said 2008 onwards, Narendra Modi as then Gujarat CM was the only Chief Minister opposing GST. “GST is very important, but the current Bill is not radical or revolutionary as the Congress had wanted it to be,” Ramesh said after the Congress decided to boycott the midnight GST launch.