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Congress interim president Sonia Gandhi chairs a virtual meeting with three chief ministers of regional parties and four Congress-ruled states, in New Delhi on Wednesday. (PTI)
Congress interim president Sonia Gandhi chairs a virtual meeting with three chief ministers of regional parties and four Congress-ruled states, in New Delhi on Wednesday. (PTI)

Opposition closes ranks against govt on GST, NEET

  • CMs of seven states pitch for a common platform for regular interaction on issues
  • CMs of Opposition-ruled states called for swift GST compensation and deferral of NEET

NEW DELHI : Congress president Sonia Gandhi on Wednesday rallied chief ministers of seven non-BJP-ruled states as they closed ranks to focus on economic issues, demand a swift goods and services tax compensation and approach the Supreme Court for a delay in the National Eligibility cum Entrance Test (NEET).

The virtual meeting, which was telecast live on Wednesday afternoon, was attended by West Bengal CM and Trinamool Congress leader Mamata Banerjee, Maharashtra CM and Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray, and the Jharkhand CM and chief of the Jharkhand Mukti Morcha Hemant Soren, apart from CMs of the four Congress-ruled states—Capt Amarinder Singh of Punjab, Bhupesh Baghel of Chhattisgarh, Ashok Gehlot of Rajasthan and V. Narayanasamy of Puducherry.

The development is significant as the chief ministers highlighted the need for a common platform for regular interaction on issues and strengthening the voice of the opposition.

“There are a number of issues related to Centre-state relations. As Parliament is expected to meet in less than three weeks, I thought we should have an interaction so that we can have a coordinated approach. GST compensation seems to be a big issue. Compensation needs to be paid on time based on processes passed by Parliament. I know that is not happening, Dues are accumulated and the finances of all the states are affected," Gandhi said. Not paying states amounts to a betrayal, she said.

Banerjee said, “My request to all states will be that we should approach SC unitedly (over NEET). Every CM must come forward and we all must come together. State governments are being bulldozed like anything…Where will the money come from?" The delay in GST compensation will hurt state finances, she said.

Thackeray echoed her views and said there was a need to think whether the structure of GST needs to be relooked. “We need to think whether GST needs to be discussed, whether it needs changes. GST compensation is a big issue but we also need to think whether the earlier GST structure that existed was better than what it is right now," said Thackeray. With the Opposition closing ranks against the Bharatiya Janata Party, the bigger problem for the Union government is that some of the alliance partners of the National Democratic Alliance have also expressed their disagreement with the government on the issue of NEET. Among the most vocal is Lok Janshakti Party (LJSP ) led by Union minister Ram Vilas Paswan. Senior leaders of the LJSP have approached Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar to ask the Union government not to hold NEET exams now.

Senior leaders of LJSP are also reaching out to all BJP-ruled state governments. Amarinder Singh suggested that the Opposition parties should hold a meeting with PM Narendra Modi over GST, while Gehlot highlighted the financial constraints by stressing on the need to increase the purchasing power of people. Baghel spoke about shortcomings in the National Education Policy, while Narayanasamy spoke in detail about attacks on the federal structure.

Pretika Khanna contributed to this story.

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