NEW DELHI: Tamil Nadu’s ruling AIADMK on Wednesday night staged a walkout from Rajya Sabha, opposing the passage of the Bill arguing that it violates fiscal autonomy of states. The AIADMK, which has 13 members in Rajya Sabha, including Sasikala Pushpa expelled from the party recently, walked out of the Upper House during the reply by finance minister Arun Jaitely before the Constitutional Amendment Bill was put to vote.
The party has been opposing the Bill tooth and nail for the last few years contending that it would bring revenue of loss of more than Rs 9,000 crore to Tamil Nadu, which is primarily a manufacturing state. During the debate, AIADMK floor leader in Rajya Sabha A Navaneethakrishnan reiterated the party’s stand that the Bill violated federalism and Article 21 of the Constitution.
“Democracy and federalism are basic features of the Constitution and this Bill violates federalism; it violates the right of the Tamil Nadu Assembly to pass laws on taxes. It also violates Article 21 of the Constitution. This Constitutional Amendment Bill is not a validly enacted law as it violates the states’ fiscal autonomy.
“Tamil Nadu stands to lose a lot of revenue if the Bill comes into force. We are primarily a manufacturing state and we will not be benefitted from this. We oppose it,” he said, making his party’s stand clear.
Explaining the amendments that his party wanted, Mr Navaneethakrishnan opposed the composition of the GST Council demanding that the weightage of state’s vote should be in proportion to their representation in the country. The AIADMK also demanded that petroleum and petroleum products must be kept outside GST permanently. Mr Navaneethakrishnan also demanded that the Centre should compensate states for any loss even after 5 years.
The AIADMK was waiting for Mr Jaitely’s reply, hoping that he would address some of the concerns raised by them. But when the finance minister said the Bill does not reduce the powers of the state governments in any way and skipped many of the issues raised, the members staged a walked out.
Tamil Nadu has been opposing the GST Council saying it compromises the autonomy of the States in fiscal matters and has been batting for continuation of Empowered Committee of State Finance/Taxation ministers.
Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa had on several occasions opposed the GST Bill in its current form and had even petitioned Prime Minister Narendra Modi demanding that the amendments proposed by her should be included in the Bill.
DMK member T. K .S .Elangovan said revenue loss to the states like Tamil Nadu should not add to the financial burden and added that tobacco and tobacco-related products should also be excluded from GST ambit.