CPI(M)’s Approach to GST: Another Double Talk?

03 September 2017
AS everyone knows, the CPI(M) and the Left Front led by it is critical of neo-liberal policies imposed by the Congress government over the people in 1991. But it is doubtful whether everyone knows that when the minority government of Narasimha Rao introduced the globalization-liberalization-privalization regime trough its finance minister Manmohan Singh in 1991, neither the BJP nor the CPI(M) opposed it in the parliament. BJP’s pro-neoliberal views were known. But CPI(M) never even tried to move a no confidence move in the Lok Sabha against this drastic reversal of erstwhile policies by the Congress government. The cat was out of he sack soon as while addressing a seminar in London School of Economics next year, Jyoti Basu, its PB member and chief minister of Bengal justified the neo-liberal policies, stating that ‘there is no alternative”. It was for this the ruling class was prepared to hoist him even to prime ministership in 1996!

Once the neo-liberal policies were speeded up the corporate lobby was pressing for tax reforms and an all India tax regime. It was for this in 2000 the Vajpayee government convened a meeting of the state and central finance ministers to discuss on Value Added Tax (VAT) and follow up actions. He Bengal finance minister Asim Dasgupta was such an active supporter of it that he was made the convener of the tax reforms mechanism. He served that cause so well that till Left Front was ousted from power in Bengal in 2011, he continued in this post. It was during this time VAT was introduced and the UPA government tried to launch GST. CPI(M) never opposed these moves except for moving certain technical amendments.

When the Modi government started moves to speed up launching of GST also CPI(M) never opposed it as a policy. On the contrary when its LDF came to power in Kerala in 2016, and Thomas Issac, its CC member became the finance minister, like Asim Dasgupta he was also its ardent advocate. Its general secretary who was Rajya Sabha member till recently also never opposed the GST, except for moving some technical amendments. Both Kerala and Tripura assemblies passed the resolution also unanimously. Thus GST was launched in midnight of 30th June/ 1st July.

But already one of its topmost intellectuals and prominent economist Prabhat Patnaik had come out with a statement on 23rd June criticizing GST as anti-Constitutional and as a move based on economic frauds. The CITU also came out with a statement criticizing GST. Still the PB and CC of CPI(M), which met in between, did not come out with any statement on GST. But soon on 23rd July, its central organ People’s Democracy has come out with an article criticizing GST as a neoliberal push under the name of one J N Majumdar!

To expose this double talk we are publishing below the statement of Prabhat Patnaik and the People's Democracy article

As far as CPI(ML) Red Star is concerned it has published a series of articles exposing Goods and Services Tax as a transfer of hegemony to MNCs and native corporate. It is organizing a campaign also against this. As the reactionary character of GST is recognized in practice various sections of masses are also coming out against it.
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The Communist movement in India has a history of almost a century after the salvos of October Revolution in Russia brought Marxism-Leninism to the people of India who were engaged in the national liberation struggle against the British colonialists. It is a complex and chequered history.