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Congress not to attend special midnight meeting on GST

LiveMint logoLiveMint 29-06-2017 PTI

New Delhi: The Congress on Thursday decided to keep away from the special midnight 30 June meeting convened by the government on GST implementation.

The decision came after Congress President Sonia Gandhi met former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh along with other leaders today.

People familiar with the matter said former prime minister Singh is unlikely to attend the event, with a party leader holding the view that the party’s decision is applicable for all.

Singh along with another former prime minister H.D. Deve Gowda have been invited for the event, which President Pranab Mukherjee is likely to attend.

Party’s senior spokesperson Satyavrat Chaturvedi said, “The Congress party will not attend the special midnight meeting on GST implementation.”

The party has been in a dilemma over attending the special midnight event in Parliament on 30 June to mark the implementation of the Goods and Services Tax (GST) and has had wide-ranging discussions with other parties also, which are likely to follow suit.

Trinamool Congress has already announced its decision to boycott the event.

Sources said Congress leaders weighed options as a group within the party felt that the GST was the party’s brainchild that has been now taken over by the ruling BJP, and thus favoured attending the special meeting.

However, some leaders opposing it feel that the GST is being implemented in a haste and all aspects have not been taken into consideration leading to harassment of small traders and businessmen and thus, the party should abstain.

Sources also say that the Congress was apparently irked with Modi trying to emulate India’s first Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru’s midnight “tryst with destiny” speech on the eve of Independence.

The Left leaders are also not inclined to attend the special GST meeting and are set to skip it, along with some other opposition parties. CPI(M) general secretary Sitaram Yechury has already questioned the government on “hurrying” into introducing GST and recalled that the ruling BJP had opposed the system when it was in the opposition.

The government will use the circular-shaped Central Hall to launch the new taxation system that is set to dramatically re-shape the over $2 trillion economy. A gong will be sounded at midnight to usher in the GST. Modi will be the key speaker at the function.

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