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Congress vice president says GST, noteban wiped out ease of doing business for small traders, Jaitley hits back saying ease of doing corruption has ended

India’s remarkable improvement in the World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business (EoDB) rankings, in which it finished at the 100th spot compared to 130 of last year, has triggered a war of words between the Congress and the BJP.

While Prime Minister Narendra Modi had on Tuesday hailed India’s new rankings as a “historic jump”, Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi has now rubbished the findings, asserting that post noteban and the GST rollout there was no ease of doing business for small traders of the country.

Addressing a public rally in Jambusar town of Bharuch district in Gujarat, where assembly elections are scheduled next month, the Congress vice president hit out at finance minister Arun Jaitley over the state of the economy while he tried to underplay the EoDB rankings.

“Yesterday, Arun Jaitley ji said some foreign organisation has certified that India has considerably improved in ease of doing business,” Rahul said, adding that the finance minister “sits in his office and believes what foreigners say”.

Earlier in the day too, the Congress vice president had taken a swipe at the finance minister through a post on micro-blogging site Twitter.

The finance minister hit back at Rahul’s taunt through a post on his Twitter account which claimed that the difference between the UPA and NDA government was that the “ease of doing corruption has been replaced by the ease of doing business”.

The EoDB rankings come at a time when the BJP, under Prime Minister Narendra Modi, is facing strident criticism of a slowdown in India’s economy. With elections due in Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh over the next month, Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi has made the economic slowdown and lack of job opportunities the focus of his attack on the Modi government and the BJP and blamed the two issues on demonetisation and hasty implementation of the GST regime by the Modi administration.

At the public rally in Jambusar, Rahul stuck to this line of attack. “The finance minister should meet small and mid-sized businessmen for 5-10 minutes and ask if the ease of doing business has really improved…The entire country will shout and say ease of doing business is absent, you have destroyed it, your demonetisation and GST have ruined it,” Rahul said.

“There is no ease of doing business for small traders after the note-bandhi and GST rollout. This has caused massive damage to small businesses, which are the backbone of the country and Gujarat,” Rahul added.

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