New Delhi: Congress chief ministers Captain Amarinder Singh and Bhupesh Bhagel on Saturday criticised the central government for economic slowdown and non-payment of revenue compensation due to states under the goods and services tax (GST).
At the 17th Hindustan Times Leadership Summit 2019, Captain Amarinder Singh, chief minister of Punjab and Bhupesh Bhagel, chief minister of Chhattisgarh, addressed issues such as leadership in the Congress party, recent encounter in Telangana and nationalism.
"I don't think she (Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman) understands the problems that the states face. All the revenue sources we have passed on through GST to the centre. I have not received my dues since August. Whatever GST has to be collected and given to the centre has been given by Punjab. But we can't keep borrowing to pay salaries," Singh said.
Speaking of the economic slowdown, Bhagel said the Congress is organising a protest on the 14 December and senior leaders including former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh have been raising the issue.
"Sitharaman doesn't understand about onions, how will she understand about anything else. We are not asking for bonus but just asking the centre to procure what they used to. We have ensured that the farmers and labourers in our state don't face the brunt of slowdown. You need to give money to the common people. They have taken money from RBI but where has that gone? Consumers’ hands are tied. There is no demand. People are spending less," Bhagel said.
Singh and Bhagel’s comments come at a time when Jharkhand is conducting assembly elections. The incumbent Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is facing Opposition led by the Congress in the state.
The two leaders said nationalism does not have a role to play in these assembly elections. It was, however, seen in the recent assembly elections in Maharashtra and Haryana, they added.
"There is a lot of difference between their nationalism and ours. There is no scope for difference in this. They will want to remove any kind of dissent from the society. Industrialists are now scared. We need to end this terror. Nationalism does not work in elections. We have seen this in the recent assembly elections," Bhagel said.
Bhagel said people decide the mood of the nation. "This is a turning point and people of Maharashtra and Haryana have shown that. The decline has started and the speed of this will increase," he added.
Commenting on the Citizenship Amendment Bill, 2019, which is likely to come up in Parliament on Monday, Singh said: "Why are we asking our people to go? Of someone living abroad wants to come back. They are major issues and you can't take an unliateral decision on. I am certainly not on board with this. We have 2/3rd majority in Punjab and my house will not support this."
As far as the future of the Congress party's leadership is concerned, Singh said the decision will be taken by the working committee. Meanwhile, Bhagel agreed that former party president Rahul Gandhi is the best option to lead the party.