Srinagar, July 4: Noisy scenes by the opposition in the Jammu and Kashmir assembly on Tuesday forced the Speaker to adjourn the House twice as the lawmakers took up the discussion on the Goods and Services Tax (GST) implementation.
Opposition MLAs belonging to the National Conference (NC), the Congress and Independents stood up on their seats and later rushed towards the Speaker’s chair as the four-day long special session started in Srinagar.
Speaker Kavinder Gupta ordered marshalling out of Independent MLA Engineer Rashid and some other opposition MLAs as they raised anti-GST slogans.
The House would resume at 2.30pm.
The assembly had began discussions on a resolution moved by the government for implementing the GST regime without affecting the special status of the state.
State finance minister Haseeb Drabu moved the resolution seeking suggestions from the lawmakers on how to implement the 101st amendment of the Constitution of India pertaining to GST in the state with modifications to ensure that the special status under Article 370 of the Constitution is not affected.
“This House resolves that the Government of Jammu and Kashmir may give consent to the adoption of GST regime by application of relevant amendments made to the Constitution of India in a modified form to safeguard existing constitutional position of J&K in the Union of India and the legislative powers under Constitution of J&K,” Drabu read from the resolution.
He said it was a very sincere effort of the government to get the sense of the house on the issue of GST implementation.
“There is no devious game plan, we want a sense of the house and communicate it to the government of India for implementing GST while safeguarding the special status of the state,” he said.
The opposition parties including the NC, Congress and Independents said they were not against the GST, but were against the adoption of Amendment 101 in its present form.
The opposition believes it will infringe on the special status of the state.
They argued that surrendering collection of taxes to the GST Council would take away the financial autonomy of the state as guaranteed under Article 370 of the Constitution.
The opposition MLAs alleged that the ruling PDP under pressure from its BJP ally has decided to bulldoze through the GST implementation in the state.
Jammu and Kashmir is the only state in the country where the GST has not been implemented so far.
Chowdhary Zulfkar Ali, Consumer Affairs and Public Distribution (CAPD) and information Minister, seconded the resolution.
Naeem Akhtar moved the resolution in the legislative council and it was seconded by Vikramaditya Singh, ruling party legislator.
Media end boycott after speaker’s assurance
Speaker, J&K Legislative Assembly Kavinder Gupta today met the media-persons outside the Legislature complex and invited them for the coverage of the special session of the House on GST following some communication gap over the issue.
The Speaker was accompanied by Minister for Revenue and Parliamentary Affairs, Abdul Rehman Veeri and Minister for Information Chowdhary Zulfkar Ali.
The Speaker assured the media of full support from the Assembly secretariat for smooth coverage of the proceedings.
Media ended the boycott of Legislative Assembly after the Speaker apologised and assured that gag on electronic media would not be repeated.
Media-persons refused to return to the House despite the government issuing a revised order, saying “it has now been decided by the authorities concerned that the journalists can carry video and still cameras and mobile phones inside the Press Gallery of the Legislature for the coverage of the special session.”
‘I can lynch you here’: Ansari tells Rana
“I can lynch you here,” Jammu and Kashmir minister Imran Ansari told National Conference leader Devender Rana in the Legislative Assembly during a discussion on implementation of the Goods and Services Tax (GST).
The remark came during a heated argument between the minister and the opposition MLA.
J&K is the only state which is yet to implement the GST, which came into force in rest of the country on July 1.
Rana, while taking part in the discussion on the GST regime, said members of House should rise above “political considerations” and agree upon what is good for the state and its people.
He opposed the GST in its current form, saying it would render the special status of the state as a “hollow husk”.
The minister for information technology, technical education and youth services and sports, interrupted and accused Rana of “double standards”.
He claimed that while Rana was opposing the GST in the Assembly, while he has already migrated his businesses to the new taxation regime.
He also read out the provisional GST registration numbers of various businesses owned by Rana and his family.
Responding to the accusation, the NC lawmaker said he had done nothing wrong as obtaining GST registrations had no legal validity in view of non-implementation of the new tax system in the state.
“Maine tax ki chori nahi ki hai (I have not indulged in tax evasion),” Rana said.
To this, an infuriated Ansari said: “I can lynch you here. I know all your shady businesses. There is no bigger thief than you. You started from selling mobil oil. Where did you get all this wealth from?”
Rana, who kept his cool, responded: “Many like me can be sacrificed at the altar of safeguarding the interests of Jammu and Kashmir.”
Several senior NC MLAs joined the issue.
Ali Mohammad Sagar, the senior-most member of the House, told the minister, “If you have planned to silence him (Rana), you are mistaken. Everyone has a right to express his opinion.”
Deputy Speaker Nazir Ahmad Gurezi hit out at both the opposition and the treasury members for “wasting the public money”.
“Stop attacking each other. People might strip you when you go out. This is nonsense. Stop it!” he said.