Washington, Sep 14 The passage of the historic Goods and Services Tax (GST), which would subsume a number of indirect central and state levies, is a reflection of political parties working together in national interest, a group of Indian parliamentarians has said here.
Describing the GST as a major tax reform, BJD MP from Orissa Baijayant Panda said yesterday it shows that various political parties, despite their differences, can come and work together on key national issues.
"It is one of the biggest reforms that India has seen, thanks to the co-operation from all political parties," said BJP MP Anurag Thakur, who along with Panda and several others are currently part of an Indian-Parliamentarian delegation on a visit to the US.
"Silently, we have worked our way through various reforms," said Congress MP Sushmita Dev during an interaction organised by the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, a top American think-tank.
The passage of the GST bill and the Congress supporting other major reforms, she said, does not mean that there will be no differences with the ruling party.
Responding to questions, the three MPs agreed in one voice that India is a tolerant country and there are enough avenues for the people to air their views.
"India as a country have a conservative and contemporary side to it. Yes, there was a rhetoric... What happened is we actually debated in the parliament. We aired (our views) out. Under no circumstances we can say that India is becoming an intolerant country. Nobody is saying that India is intolerant. The debate is what is the attitude of this government towards tolerance," Dev said.
Thakur said that image of a nation, including that of the US, cannot be based on one big event or incident.
"That does not give the right picture. India has been a tolerant nation. It will be a tolerant nation," he said.
Thakur asked what would happen when someone in the US would show the people behind 9/11 as something rather than terrorist.
"Nation should be a priority," he said and rued about the nature of coverage of some unfortunate incidents by the media.
The three MPs refrained from commenting in their views on the American presidential elections. But were confident that Indo-US ties would move ahead at the same pace as it has in the last decade and a half.
The GST, which will subsume over a dozen central and state levies including excise duty, service tax and VAT, is one of the most important tax reforms in India. It was passed from Rajya Sabha in August.