The opposition Congress and the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) have demanded withdrawal of 18 per cent Goods and Services Tax (GST) on entry passes for commercial ’garba’ events being organised in major cities in Gujarat as part of the nine-day Navratri festival.
While workers from these two parties have been staging protests on the issue, Gujarat education minister and state government spokesperson Jitu Vaghani hit back saying GST on entry passes of any cultural event, including commercial garba events, have been in place since 2017 and each state, including those ruled by the Congress, had given approval for it.
The entry pass GST issue came to the fore after United Way of Baroda, a Vadodara-based NGO popular for organising a mega garba event, mentioned applicable GST rates on its website recently.
As per the website, a nine-day pass for males would cost Rs 4,838, which includes Rs 4,100 entry fee and 18 per cent GST of Rs 738, while for females, the entry fee is fixed at Rs 1,298, which comprises Rs 1,100 for the pass and Rs 198 as GST at 18 per cent.
The Congress and AAP have held protests in Vadodara, Surat and Valsad on Tuesday and Wednesday seeking withdrawal of GST, with some 10 Congress workers led by Vadodara city unit chief Rutvij Joshi on Tuesday performing garba in the Vadodara collectorate premises. On Wednesday, AAP workers held protests in Vadodara and Surat city with garba performances on the streets, which led to their detention by police.
On Wednesday, AAP workers held protests in Vadodara and Surat city with garba performances on the streets, which led to their detention by police. ”People of Gujarat are very angry.
The BJP has formed the government with the blessings of Hindus and now the government wants to earn money by imposing tax on garba, which is a Hindu tradition and the identity and pride of Gujarat. BJP wants to destroy Gujarat’s identity by imposing tax on garba,” alleged senior Congress leader Amit Chavda.
Gopal Italia, president of Gujarat AAP, shot a letter to Chief Minister Bhupendra Patel demanding withdrawal of GST on garba events. ”People are attached to garba as it is a matter of our faith. Imposing tax on people’s faith shows the BJP’s low level mentality. There was never a tax on worshiping our Gods. We condemn this act by the BJP and demand immediate withdrawal of this tax,” said Italia.
Hitting back, Vaghani had on Wednesday said GST on such events has been prevalent since 2017. ”The opposition is only interested in inciting people. This protest is politically motivated because GST on different types of cultural events has been there since 2017. The Centre had issued a notification in this regard in 2017 and every state had agreed on such a tax,” said Vaghani.
”That notification was issued with the consent of each state. After that, many events were organised in the country, including in Congress ruled states. This GST is on entry fee. This is not new. And, there is absolutely no tax on non-commercial garba events organised by residential societies,” he added.