Former Union minister Jairam Ramesh with Odisha state Congress president Prasad Harichandan at Congress Bhawan in Bhubaneswar on Saturday, January 9, 2016. (Press Trust of India photo)
Bhubaneswar: Senior Congress leader Jairam Ramesh today said his party is not against the Goods and Services Tax (GST) bill, as the BJP says, and instead held Prime Minister Narendra Modi responsible for holding it up.
"Congress is not opposed to the GST bill. We want the bill to be passed. But BJP does not want the bill to be passed. Prime Minister Narendra Modi's support for GST is an afterthought. Modi, who was chief minister of Gujarat, single-handedly stalled it while in opposition," Mr Ramesh told media persons in Bhubaneswar.
He claimed neither the Bharatiya Janata Party nor Modi and party president Amit Shah want the bill to be passed by parliament.
"We had put three conditions with the NDA government regarding putting 18 percent cap on tax in the bill, removal of levy of one per cent additional GST and setting up an independent judicial body to regulate disputes between states and between Centre and states," said Mr Ramesh.
"Fulfill these three conditions and get the bill passed," he added.
Minister of State for Finance Jayant Sinha on Friday blamed the Congress party for blocking the bill in Rajya Sabha, where the government doesn't command a majority.
On Odisha, Mr Ramesh demanded a Supreme Court-monitored Central Bureau of Investigation inquiry into the chit fund and mining scams, and accused the central government of protecting the state's Naveen Patnaik government.
He described the prime minister as a "ventilator", the CBI as an "oxygen cylinder" and Mr Patnaik as a "patient".
"The chit fund and mining scams have full involvement of politicians and bureaucrats. There is political nexus and the people involved should be brought to book. But, the Centre is not allowing the CBI to probe independently. That's why we want a Supreme Court monitored CBI probe, not Narendra Modi monitored probe," said Mr Ramesh.
Reacting over the contentious Polavaram irrigation project issue, he said the chief ministers of Andhra Pradesh, Odisha and Chhattisgarh should come together and the central government should take the lead to discuss the matter.