Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi on Monday criticised the Narendra Modi government’s Goods and Services Tax, while campaigning in poll-bound Gujarat. He said the GST was actually “Gabbar Singh Tax”, which was adversely affecting small traders across the country.
The Congress leader was speaking at the Navsarjan Janadesh Mahasammelan rally in Gandhinagar. He questioned why the government was holding discussions with beleaguered businessman Vijay Mallya, while the loans of farmers in the country have not been waived. Mallya is wanted in India for a number of cases, including for defaulting on loans worth Rs 9,000 crore from 17 banks.
The government has shown that only the loans of the rich will be waived, but not the poor, Gandhi said. Modi had also given Rs 30 to 35 crore to Tata to set up Nano car plant in Gujarat, he said, adding that the money could have been used to waive farmers’ loans.
Gandhi on Monday said that Gujarat can never be bought, after there have been accusations that the Bharatiya Janata Party offered massive amounts of money to Patidar movement leaders to switch camps. “No one can buy or gag the voice of people in Gujarat with Rs 1 crore or even with the budget of the entire country,” Gandhi said.
Taking a jibe at Modi and BJP chief Amit Shah, Gandhi said the Centre’s ambitious programmes, such as ‘Make In India’ and ‘Start Up India’, had failed. But, “only the companies belonging to Jay Shah had its turnover spiked”.
“Modi used to say ‘neither will I take a bribe, now will I let others’, but what happened now?” Gandhi said.
Gandhi said the youth in Gujarat wanted jobs and education. “But, whenever they go to college, they are asked for Rs 10 lakh as education fees....Every time you click a selfie and click that button, a Chinese youth gets employment,” he claimed.
Gandhi’s visit comes two days after OBC leader Alpesh Thakor announced that he was joining the Congress. The OSS Ekta Manch founder is expected to formally join the Congress at the rally in Gandhinagar in the presence of the party vice president, The Times of India reported. Thakor had gained prominence after he opposed the Patidar agitation.
On Sunday, convenor of Hardik Patel’s Patidar Anamat Andolan Samiti, Narendra Patel, alleged that he was offered Rs 1 crore to cross over to the Bharatiya Janata Party. Key leaders of the movement, Varun Patel and Reshma Patel, had joined the party on Sunday. Narendra Patel, who had joined the BJP on Sunday, claimed that Varun Patel made a Rs 1-crore deal with the BJP for him. “He gave Rs 10 lakh in advance. They are going to be giving me Rs 90 lakh tomorrow [Monday], but even if they give me the entire Reserve Bank, they will not be able to buy me,” he said at a press conference.
The allegations gain significance as the Congress and the BJP have been trying to gain the support of the Patel community ahead of the upcoming Assembly election. On October 21, the Congress had invited Hardik Patel to join forces against the BJP, which has been in power in Gujarat for the past two decades.