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Frustrated Congress

Frustrated Congress

Even though Congress has the distinction of setting in motion, 15 years back, the process of evolving a GST regimen, it boycotted the launch function in the Central Hall of Parliament, a few minutes past midnight last Friday along with the Trinamool Congress, DMK, and the Left parties. It was on the specious ground that the Narendra Modi government's preparation was woefully inadequate having portended of creating avoidable, widespread disarray and confusion sending the traders into a tizzy. The anger of Congress spokespersons was directed against the BJP led NDA government and Prime Minister Narendra Modi in particular for misleading the nation, as though the far-reaching GST has already accomplished the task of economic integration leading to "one nation one tax replacing more than 500 kinds of taxes.

" This is certainly some distance away. At the same time, the next meeting of the General Council to review the GST rollout is fixed for August 5. However, in its present form, the GST has four slabs of income tax -- five per cent, 12 per cent, 18 per cent and 28 per cent. The Congress is aghast about the maximum 28 per cent tax which should not have been there at any cost. Former minister and Congress Rajya Sabha MP Jairam Ramesh maintained in an interview, that the boycott of the midnight function has nothing to do with the GST and that the Old Lady of Bori Bunder will never seek a rollback. There is no doubt about the demoralisation and frustration in the party as it has not been able to put up a fight against the Lotus party. By not being part of the GST rollout in the central hall of Parliament after having initiated it, the Congress might have hurt its interests in the eyes of the people. Electorally, the only saving grace for the Congress in the last three years has been regaining the crucial border state of Punjab after a gap of ten years, because of huge anti-incumbency against the SAD-BJP combine.

Making matters worse for them is the duo of Modi along with his confidant and BJP president Amit Shah. On his own, the Prime Minister is way ahead of any opposition party or leader in the popularity ratings. The manner in which they have branded some of their popular initiatives has proved to be highly advantageous to the saffron brigade. Going by the present trends there are ample indications that the BJP and the Prime Minister, in particular, are expected to romp home clear winners for a second consecutive term as the Head of Government. Compared to that the Congress is in the dumps with party vice president and heir Rahul Gandhi, apparent failing to make any worthwhile impact on the masses; neither has the rank and file of the party been enthused by him. Nevertheless, a laboured effort is being made to assure that opposition unity in the run-up to the 2019 general elections is a reality without being dismissed out of hand.

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