Congress on Wednesday said it has decided not to attend a "midnight" gathering convened by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the present BJP government in the Parliament on June 30 on implementation of Goods and Services Tax.
In a statement, a Congress spokesman said such a midnight assembly in the Central Hall of the Parliament has been called only thrice in the past 70 years, "first on India's independence in 1947, then on silver jubilee of the independence in 1972, and on golden jubilee of the independence in 1997."
"This clearly indicates that whenever there has been any midnight function of parliamentarians in the Parliament's Central Hall, it was directly linked with India's independence celebrations," the spokesman said, adding that the Congress believes that by calling such an assembly, the Prime Minister and the present BJP Government are "devaluing the importance of the freedom movement and destroying the solemnity associated with such gatherings in the Central Hall."
"The Prime Minister and his Cabinet colleagues have been eloquent by their silence on issues that are agitating the country like continued distress of farmers, lynching of Indian citizens, unabated crime against women across the country, growing unemployment facing youth, deteriorating internal security situation, and lack of investment growth," the spokesman said, adding: "Yet the Government finds time to stage a spectacle of grandeur on GST. This is truly a Goods and Services Tamasha (GST) which the Congress does not want to be a part of."
"There are nationwide protests taking place against lynching and atrocities unleashed on minorities and Dalits under one pretext or the other, as a result of which the minorities, SC/STs and other weaker sections of the society are living in the climate of constant fear. Students, lawyers, academics, journalists, writers, film makers, social activists, retired professionals, workers, common citizens—all are outraged at the attacks on human life and dignity and are showing the solidarity with the aggrieved people," the Congress said. "Government of India is in deep slumber and there is no sign of waking up. The Government needs to wake up on the issues agitating the people of the country instead of organizing a function with pomp and show on GST."
The Congress said GST first entered India's economic policy discourse in 2003. "As Chief Minister of Gujarat, the Prime Minister vehemently opposed GST. The Congress-led UPA government spent seven years building a national consensus on GST and finally introduced a GST Bill in Parliament in 2011. But GST could never become a reality because of the strident opposition to it by the then Chief Minister of Gujarat. After becoming Prime Minister in 2014, Narendra Modi did many U-turns including on GST," the Congress said.