Srinagar: Responding to the government’s adoption of Goods and Services Tax (GST) in Jammu and Kashmir, the opposition National Conference (NC) said on Saturday that Article 370 of the Indian Constitution and section 5 of the JK Constitution have been diluted and “future generations” will not forgive the Mehbooba Mufti government for this betrayal.
“The central GST has been fully extended to the state as envisaged in the newly added Article 246A of the Constitution of India,” NC leader and former JK finance minister Abdul Rahim Rather said during a press conference at NC headquarters in Srinagar. “In addition to this, Article 279A has also been applied to the state in toto,” he said.
Rather said that by virtue of the presidential order, the “Centre has been given vast powers to make laws on the sales of goods and services in the state which hitherto was the sole domain of the state legislature.”
Rather, who was accompanied by party president Farooq Abdullah and general secretary Ali Muhammad Sagar, said that the Presidential Order has robbed Section 5 of the Constitution of Jammu and Kashmir of its content and substance, but a mere rhetorical certification of its continuance is being celebrated by the ruling PDP, to “fool the people of the state.”
“The opponents of fiscal autonomy and special position have been celebrating since the vague resolution was passed in the legislature,” he said.
Rather said the conduct of business in the legislature specifically restrains the Speaker from allowing any resolution in the Assembly which is vague, but the Speaker chose to allow the “vague” GST resolution in total disregard of rules and conventions.
“The state BJP president has publicly expressed his party’s happiness over their ideological victory. He has said that the extension of GST regime to the state was a beginning of the process of complete integration of Jammu and Kashmir into the Union of India,” Rather said.
“This has exposed the hollow claims of the ruling PDP-BJP dispensation that the extension of GST regime to J&K state was purely a taxation matter and had nothing to do with politics or the identity of the state,” he added.
He said that at the meeting of the empowered committee of state finance ministers held at Shillong, Meghalaya, on 18th and 19th of November, 2013, he discussed “the alternative GST model at length”, thus nullifying the claims of the ruling dispensation that an alternative GST model does not exist at all and was not shared with the empowered committee.
Responding to a question that the financial integration of the State with the Union of India had taken place long back in the year 1956, as claimed by current finance minister Haseeb Drabu, Rather said that if this was the case then there would have been no need to extend Article 246A and Article 279A of the Constitution of India to the State of Jammu and Kashmir through the recently issued Presidential Order.
“It is very unfortunate that the state’s chief minister as also her finance minister are deliberately and intentionally concealing the material facts about GST and its adverse impact on the state’s special position. Our future generations will not forgive them for this deceitful and questionable collaboration in facilitating the erosion of J&K’s autonomy,” he said.