On Sunday, Congress leader Rahul Gandhi hit out at the Centre over the massive GDP contraction seen in the first quarter of this financial year. In the April-June quarter of 2020, India's GDP shrank by 23.9%. And while many had attributed this to the COVID-19 pandemic - the Congress has hit out at the ruling BJP over its policies and initiatives. Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman had incidentally attributed this to "an act of God" -- a statement that had triggered massive backlash.
Now, Rahul Gandhi in a video posted to Twitter has said that one of the reasons behind the slump was the "Gabbar Singh Tax (GST) of the Modi government". Now, just as an aside we want to clarify that there isn't really a 'Gabbar Singh Tax'. This is merely a moniker utilised by Gandhi to hit out at the opposition.
"This has ruined many things: 1. lakhs of small businesses; 2. crores of jobs and the future of the youth; 3. economic status of the states. GST means economic disaster," he added in the caption.
In the video Gandhi says that while GST had been an idea of the UPA government, the NDA had created something very different. "Four separate tax brackets and up to 28% tax. And very complicated...difficult to understand," he says.
Wondering why there were four different rates, Gandhi notes that even as MSMEs find it difficult to pay this tax, big companies can do so with ease.
"There are four different rates because the government wants those who have the means to be able to easily change GST, while those who don't have means, cannot do anything about GST. Who has the means? India's biggest 15-20 industrialists. So, whatever tax law they want to change can easily be done in this GST regime," he alleged.
Why is it being called a “Gabbar Singh Tax"?
The term is a reference to well known cinema character Gabbar Singh -- otherwise known as the bandit in Sholay who had led a group in looting and plundering villages. This is not the first time that Gandhi has used the phrase to refer to the tax reforms brought in by the Modi government.
Following the video, many other Congress leaders have stepped out in support of Gandhi, even BJP leaders remain critical. The term "Gabbar Singh Tax" has been trending on Twitter for some time now.
"#RahulGandhi ji explains in his latest video, how NDA changed the simple #GST proposed by UPA & how the present flawed GST structure is ruining the unorganised sector & MSMEs. #RahulGandhiSpeaksOnEconomy" tweeted Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot.
"@RahulGandhi if GST is Gabbar Singh Tax then why Congress supported it.If you have courage than instruct Cong ruled states to come out of GST Council.#GSTforIndia" countered Bihar Deputy Chief Minister Sushil Kumar Modi.