The Rajya Sabha has taken up the discussion on the motion of thanks to President Ram Nath Kovind for his address to joint sitting of both the Houses. Moving the motion in the House, Amit Shah of BJP appealed to all the opposition parties to extend full support to the government in smooth implementation of Goods and Services Tax, GST rolled out last year. In his maiden speech in the House, Mr Shah termed the GST as a biggest tax reform which will take the country on the path of development. He hit out at the Congress for describing GST as Gabbar Singh Tax.
He wanted to know from the major opposition party whether the collection of Tax under GST which has been passed by Parliament is a loot. He also asserted that the BJP had never opposed the GST as alleged by the Congress. He said, the BJP ruled State governments had no trust in the then Congress led UPA government which had already broken its promises of compensating States’ dues on account of Central Sales Tax which was to the tune of 33 thousand crore rupees.
He said, it is BJP government which agreed to compensate the States’ losses arising out of the implementation of the GST. He also said, there are some initial hiccups in the implementation of GST but ultimately the difficulties will be overcome and the new indirect tax regime benefits the traders including small business in the country. He said, the GST council in its 23 meetings had unanimously decided to reduce to lower tax rates on 400 items and exempted 150 items from the GST.
Mr Shah also criticized the Congress for comparing street vendors with beggars saying that it is better to do hard labour than to be unemployed but in no case it is begging. He said, the government has taken various steps for employment generation like Start up India. He said, over 10.5 crore beneficiaries were given loans under MUDRA scheme without any guarantee and at low interest rates.
He said, over four lakh crore rupees were disbursed under the scheme. Referring to the Ayushman Bharat scheme announced in the Budget to provide insurance cover of five lakh rupees to 50 crore people, the BJP President said, no government had the courage till now to introduce a scheme of this scale, therefore the scheme has been christened ‘NaMo Healthcare’ by the people. Mr Shah said, the NDA government has a principle that it does not take decisions that people like but it takes decisions that are good for the people. Mr Shah also appealed to the Opposition Congress to support the bill to give constitutional status to the National Commission for Backward Classes (NCBC) for its smooth passage in Parliament, saying there is no politics involved.
Referring to the Triple Talaq legislation, he said, Muslim women were battling for their rights in courts since last many years and when the Prime Minister brings a legislation to protect the rights of Muslim women, the Bill was stalled in the Rajya Sabha.
Mr Shah said, the government is being run in a transparent manner and in the last 3.5 years and even the opposition has not been able to accuse the government of any scam. Mr Shah also pitched for simultaneous elections of Lok Sabha and State Assemblies. He also listed out Congress’ failures at various fronts ranging from farmers’ issue to unemployment in his over an hour long maiden speech. Mr Shah pointed out that for the first time after independence, a non-Congress party was given mandate by the public and it was BJP government led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
He said, the NDA government is moving in the direction of eradicating poverty, providing quality education, healthcare and affordable housing.
The motion was seconded by his party colleague Dr Vinay Sahastrabuddhe. In his speech, Dr Sahastrabuddhe highlighted the achievements of NDA government in last three and a half years.
Participating in the debate on motion of thanks of President’s address, Leader of Opposition and Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad accused the BJP led NDA government of repackaging a number of UPA schemes. He said, the present government is doing nothing but only changing the names of earlier schemes. He said, under Swachh Bharat mission, only 50 per cent of total toilets have been created and majority of them are not worth using due to lack of water. He also criticised the government for high price rise of diesel and petrol despite low international price of crude oil. He also accused the government of not taking concrete steps to check sexual assault on child and women.
Mr Azad said, the government’s promise of making the farmers’ income double by 2022 is only hollow as it requires huge investment of 6.40 lakh crore rupees which the government has not provided in the budget. On Kashmir issue, the Congress leader said, the situation in Jammu and Kashmir is not good and large number of ceasefire violations have been witnessed in the current dispensation.
Mr Azad said, the new health insurance scheme announced in the budget will benefit only the insurance companies and not the 50 crore poor people for whom it is meant for and suggested to focus on strengthening the existing health infrastructure in government hospitals. On Triple Talaq bill, Mr Azad said his party is in favour of it but it is unfair to create a divide between husband and wife by sending husband to jail.