New Delhi: Tamil Nadu Finance Minister Palanivel Thiaga Rajan Sunday hit back at Goa Transport Minister Mauvin Godinho after the latter alleged attempts to stifle the western beach state’s voice at the GST council meet held Friday.
Both represent their respective states in the council and were involved in a tiff at the council meet, which took place through video conferencing, over the issue of equal representation and voting rights to all states, irrespective of their population.
Tamil Nadu favours the idea of bigger states having a larger say in the council, a proposition opposed by smaller states like Goa. The tiff apparently broke out when the TN minister tried to intervene during a lengthy speech by the Goa minister at the council meet.
The latter claims the intervention was made when he was trying to push for preferential treatment to smaller states when it comes to payment of GST compensation shortfall.
While Goa is led by the BJP, the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) is in office in Tamil Nadu.
Battle of states
Making the tiff public, Godinho, at a press conference Saturday, accused the Tamil Nadu minister of trying to act like a big brother and virtually asking him to “shut up”.
Godinho also took to Twitter on the matter, saying an attempt was made by the Tamil Nadu government to snub Goa’s views because of it being a small state.
I was witness to a highly objectionable behaviour of the representative of DMK-@INCIndia alliance Govt of Tamil Nadu in GST Council Meet where, attempt was made to snub Goa’s view because of being a Small State. This is against the democratic principles & Goans demand an apology.
— Mauvin Godinho (@MauvinGodinho) May 29, 2021
Rajan described the claims as “baseless lies”, adding that Godinho’s statements at the council meeting were “highly repetitive, largely vacuous, hectoring, mostly redundant to others; inputs, supercilious, and devoid of the basic courtesy of assuming good faith in the comments of other states’ ministers”.
In a Twitter statement issued to the “People of Goa”, Rajan said Godinho spoke “many times the length of the inputs from the hon’ble minister from Uttar Pradesh, a state of over 20 crore citizens, and indeed EVERY other state”.
Sworn in as minister earlier this month, he tweeted that he hopes to attain the “dignified restraint” shown by his counterparts in West Bengal, Punjab and others “in the face of provocation”.
He also said the statement is his attempt to counter “blatant lies and hypocrisy”.
As a relatively new entrant to public life, I hope I will one day attain the dignified restraint shown by @DrAmitMitra, @MSBADAL, and many other Hon’ble Ministers of the GST Council in the face of provocation
But today….I can not let blatant lies and hypocrisy go unanswered pic.twitter.com/WurmjUejgQ
— Dr P Thiaga Rajan (PTR) (@ptrmadurai) May 30, 2021
Rajan said he had supported the rights of the Goa government and had done no harm to the state’s people. He also questioned the wisdom of the Goa chief minister for his nomination of Godinho as the state’s representative in the council.
Rajan said Tamil Nadu’s stance in the council sought to strengthen states’ rights and federal governance even when it meant loss of revenues to Tamil Nadu. He cited TN’s stance in support of excluding ENA (extra-neutral alcohol) from GST — inclusion would have meant future revenue gains for the state but losses for Uttar Pradesh — to further this claim. He also said Tamil Nadu backed Sikkim’s demand for allowing it to levy a cess within its borders to raise funds for Covid-19
“There was NO agenda item regarding Goa’s intention to levy any cess, so I simply could NOT have VOTED AT ALL on an agenda item that did NOT EXIST, let alone vote against it!” he added.
Godinho, Rajan added, “vociferously, and repeatedly” opposed lowering the GST on Covid-related drugs & vaccines from 5 per cent to 0 per cent on humanitarian grounds.
(Edited by Sunanda Ranjan)
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