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Narendra Modi had hit out at Rahul Gandhi while campaigning in Gujarat, claiming that Congress vice president was propagating a grand stupid thought on GST cap

Former finance minister P Chidambaram has taken a swipe at Prime Minister Narendra Modi for his claim that Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi was propagating a “grand stupid thought” by promising voters in Gujarat that if his party was ruling at the Centre, it would have capped the highest Goods and Services Tax (GST) slab at 18 per cent.

On Thursday, in a series of tweets, Chidambaram sought to remind the Prime Minister that the current Chief Economic Advisor of the Centre Arvind Subramaniam – a man handpicked by Narendra Modi for the role – had also made similar suggestions on the GST cap.

The former finance minister wondered if he felt that his Chief Economic Advisor was “stupid” too.

Modi’s “grand stupid thought” jibe was an obvious riposte to the sarcastic dig that Rahul Gandhi has been taking at the GST regime rolled out by the Centre – calling it the “Gabbar Singh Tax” while referring to the many complications and confusions that common citizens have been facing in filing their tax returns over the past five months.

While addressing a poll rally in his home state Gujarat’s Morbi town on Wednesday, Modi had attacked Rahul Gandhi over the ‘Gabbar Singh Tax’ swipe claiming: “Those who have looted people throughout their life, they can only remember dacoits.” Gabbar Singh was the name of the iconic villain from the Bollywood blockbuster “Sholay”.

It was obvious that the Prime Minister calling out Rahul Gandhi for spreading a “grand stupid thought” would not go down well with Congress leaders.

Chidambaram sought to know from the Prime Minister why the normal GST rate could not be capped at 15 per cent while the revenue neutral rate on luxury goods could be pegged at 18 per cent. Under the current GST slabs a host of supposedly luxury items have been placed in the high tax bracket of 28 per cent. Recently the growing unrest among the business and trader community coupled with an onslaught of Opposition attacks against the Centre over the high tax rates – neither of which would have bode well for the BJP in poll-bound Gujarat – the GST Council had been forced to remove over a 100 items from the 28 per cent GST tax slab and place them in lower tax brackets.

Chidambaram also pointed out that the Chief Economic Advisor’s report on Revenue Neutral Rate had recommended that the RNR be capped at 15-15.5 per cent – a slab that is much lower than the 28 per cent highest GST slab that is currently in use or even the 18 per cent cap that Rahul Gandhi has been propagating. The former finance minister also wondered if the Prime Minister had read the report filed by his own Chief Economic Advisor.

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