Bihar election to be political watershed: Jairam Ramesh

New Delhi, Aug 28: Congress leader Jairam Ramesh on Friday said he was confident the JD-U-RJD alliance with his party will be able to stop Prime Minister Narendra Modi's "juggernaut" -- as it happened in Delhi in February.

"Assembly elections in Bihar are a watershed event politically. It is very clear that the government's strategy is two-faced like the one adopted during the 2014 general election," Ramesh said during an interaction with the media at the Indian Women's Press Corps here.

'Bihar poll to be political watershed'

He said the BJP strategy would be of keeping the development agenda on top and communal polarisation at the bottom.

"The release of the census data on religion is not accidental. Each of the 243 constituencies are going to be fought bitterly. Caste is also going to be an important factor. It is going to be a (Chief Minister) Nitish Kumar versus Modi contest."

"We are confident that the alliance will be able to stop the Modi juggernaut like in Delhi," he added.

Ramesh added: "Another important factor politically is Hardik Patel who has completely redrawn the map of Gujarat. It questions the very foundation of the Gujarat model of development."

On the Goods and Services Tax Bill, Ramesh said: "Empowerment committee of state finance ministers had unanimously supported GST. But Gujarat had opposed it. But when he became prime minister, he discovered the virtues of GST."

He said the Congress has given a dissent note to the Rajya Sabha select committee on GST, demanding the tax rate should not be more than 18 percent, one percent additional surcharge should be done away with and in case of a dispute there must be independent mechanism.

Questioned about speculation of a special session being called to get the GST Bill passed, the Congress leader said the NDA government has as of now not made any effort to speak with the Congress on this.

The Rajya Sabha MP said since the NDA government came to power, inflation remains a "puzzling" phenomenon. "Inflation rates are low, but rise in cost of food items are worrying."

Ramesh said though Modi has made "Swachh Bharat" a media blitz, he has not spoken about tackling open defecation and manual scavenging.


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