In a display of massive hypocrisy, Congress had opposed the recent GST tax rate cuts of several times that would benefit the middle-class during the recently concluded GST council meet. On 22nd December 2018, the Modi government had slashed the GST tax rate for several items with only 28 sin goods remaining in the high 28% category, and surprisingly, it face stiff opposition from Congress, whose President Rahul Gandhi has been calling GST ‘Gabbar Singh Tax’ and demanding rate cuts during his election speeches.
On December 18th, during his keynote speech at Republic Summit, the Prime Minister had asserted that soon, 99% items would be clubbed in the 18% or lower GST tax slab and the Finance Minister, Arun Jaitley had delivered on that promise promptly, within 4 days of that announcement.
However, the passage of the tax cut was not without opposition from the strangest quarters. According to our sources, at the GST council meeting, all three Congress-ruled states namely Rajasthan, Chhattisgarh and Madhya Pradesh opposed the rate cut.
Our sources have confirmed that Congress opposed the rate cuts in general, but on certain items, their opposition was most vehement. Here are the specific items that met the stiffest opposition from the Congress.
1. Cinema Tickets: GST for cinema tickets less than Rs 100 reduced from 18% to 12%, for tickets above than Rs 100, GST reduced from 28% to 18%.
2. Monitor and TV up to 32 inches: Rate cut from 28% to 18%
3. Music Books and vegetables (uncooked or cooked by boiling in water): Music books and vegetables (uncooked or cooked by steaming or boiling in water), frozen, branded and put in a unit container and vegetables provisionally preserved but unsuitable in that state for immediate consumption have been exempted from GST. Music Books went from 12% to be exempt, and vegetables went from 5% to be exempt.
4. Fly Ash blocks: GST reduced from 12% to 5%
5. Video games: Video game consoles and other games and sports requisites falling under HS code 9504 went from 28% to 18%.
6. Digital cameras: Digital cameras and video camera recorders went from the 28% slab to 18% GST slab.
7. Jan Dhan: Services supplied by banks to Basic Saving Bank Deposit (BSBD) account holders under Pradhan Mantri Jan Dhan Yojana (PMJDY) shall be exempted.
The above listed 7 items’ GST rate reduction met with the stiffest opposition from specifically Congress. Most of these items would benefit the middle-class especially the reduction of GST on Cinema tickets, Monitors and TVs up to 32 inch, video games, digital cameras and even vegetables.
Congress opposing items that can benefit the middle class is a classic case of Congress trying to stymie benefit to the people of the country for petty political gains. Congress led by Rahul Gandhi also perhaps opposed the rate cut because the party’s prevalent narrative is that the Modi government has not done much for the middle-class, which is also considered BJP’s core vote bank.
With these rate cuts, the Modi government has taken a giant leap in assuaging the anger of the middle class, and it is no surprise that Rahul Gandhi and his motley party would do everything in their power to hinder that process for electoral gains.