Day after Punjab waives its GST share on langar, MLAs fight for credit
Leader of opposition Sukhpal Singh Khaira of AAP said the government “woke up” only after he raised the issue.punjab Updated: Mar 23, 2018 00:02 IST
A day after the Punjab chief minister announced waiver of the state’s half in goods and services tax (GST) levied on food items used for community kitchen (langar) at the Golden Temple and other shrines, the ruling Congress and main opposition Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) indulged in a war of words to claim credit for it in the Vidhan Sabha on Thursday, the third day of the budget session.
Leader of opposition Sukhpal Singh Khaira of AAP said the government “woke up” only after he raised the issue. On the government’s part, pointing towards MLAs of the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD), minister Navjot Singh Sidhu said that ever since GST was implemented nine months ago, the SAD, which is an ally of the BJP government at the Centre, is silent.Members had on Wednesday urged the Centre too to waive its half of the tax on the shrines.
The resolution to this effect that was moved on Wednesday by Dera Baba Nanak MLA Sukhjinder Singh Randhawa of the Congress was passed unanimously on Thursday. Randhawa again got up and said that what the CM had announced (waiver) was beyond the comprehension of AAP MLAs.
CM Capt Amarinder Singh had announced that the state will forgo its half of the GST levied on food items coming into the Golden Temple, Amritsar, for langar (community kitchen). While putting the emotive issue of taxing items at the prime Sikh shrine into the central government’s court now, on a further demand by legislators, the CM had announced this waiver also for two Hindus shrines, besides declaring that respective community leaders could choose a mosque and a church, too, for the benefit, “because we are a secular force”.
AAP’s Kharar MLA Kanwar Sandhu said the Congress government had not put its case effectively before the GST Council and Union finance minister Arun Jaitley. To this, state finance minister Manpreet Singh Badal said he took up the matter thrice but it was rejected. “So our government decided to do it at our end,” he said.
Meanwhile, the CM on Thursday also took on former deputy CM Sukhbir Singh Badal of SAD over the latter’s statement that the Congress was taking credit for works of the SAD-BJP regime that ruled for 10 years until March last year.
“Governance is an ongoing exercise and the government has no qualms in continuing with any worthwhile projects of the previous regime,” said the CM, adding, “The Akalis’ effort to take credit for all the good work of our government is yet another lie being perpetrated by them.”He quipped, “The Akalis would not be sitting in the opposition had they really worked for the welfare and benefit of the people during their 10-year rule.”