Alleging that there was apprehension about the Goods and Services Tax within the BJP leadership itself, West Bengal Finance Minister Amit Mitra on Friday said even Prime Minister Narendra Modi had stiffly opposed the tax regime before taking over the country's top post.
Mitra, chairman of the empowered committee on GST, recounted a meeting at Delhi's Vigyan Bhavan where Modi - then Gujarat Chief Minister - was present.
"That meeting was chaired by then Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. Modi had then said 'We don't agree with GST. GST is bad'," recalled Mitra.
Mitra also referred to the strong stance taken against GST by the Gujarat Finance Minister Saurabh Patel and his Madhya Pradesh counterpart. "While Patel said his government did not want to accept GST, the Madhya Pradesh Minister said his government was opposed to GST in totality."
Mitra wondered how the BJP and its state governments could do a complete volte-face after the party came to power at the Centre in 2014.
"They did a volte-face after coming to power at the Centre. They became strong votaries of GST. How and why they did the somersault can be a matter of research," he said.
Mitra claimed that a section of the BJP leadership was apprehensive about the fallout of the GST.
"They can't say everything openly. They only articulate their concerns during private conversations. But I found even a NITI Ayog member like Bibek Deb Roy talking of 'many problems' and 'unexpected problems' that may be triggered by the new tax regime," he said.
West Bengal's ruling Trinamool Congress has announced boycott of the midnight GST roll-out event in Parliament.