In Hindu beliefs, Ganga Jal (water from the Ganges) and truth go cheek by jowl. Lies don’t flow with the holy river.
The Congress and the BJP are now wrestling with each other over the imposition of 18 per cent GST (goods and services tax) on Ganga Jal. While the Congress blasted the Narendra Modi government for taxing Ganga Jal, an essential ingredient in all Hindu religious rituals, the BJP hit back hard, dismissing the accusation as false propaganda.
Now it turns out the Congress was right and the Modi government has scrapped the tax under pressure.
Congress spokesperson Supriya Shrinate said at a media conference: “The Modi government resorted to extracting 18 per cent GST even on Ganga Jal, which is used in every Hindu ritual from birth to death. When the Congress president raised an objection, the BJP spokespersons and fake news kingpins brazenly lied, claiming that the material used in puja is exempt from GST. But this lie had to be exposed as 18 per cent tax was a reality.”
Shrinate said: “The central government started this scheme of selling Ganga Jal through India Post in 2016. The postal department sold the 250ml bottle for Rs 30, which later became Rs 35 after the imposition of 18 per cent GST. The government issued an order on August 8 imposing 18 per cent tax on Ganga Jal. On August 18, India Post tweeted that the bottle will now cost Rs 35 because of the tax. We are releasing the copy of the order.”
Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge had promptly objected, asserting that this was the extreme of “loot and hypocrisy”. Chhattisgarh chief minister Bhupesh Baghel also highlighted the issue, wondering whether the BJP intended to prevent the poor from worshipping their gods. The Chhattisgarh BJP complained to the Election Commission, alleging that the Congress was spreading misinformation.
The BJP’s IT cell chief, Amit Malviya, jumped into the debate, debunking the “false propaganda” by saying: “It is disgraceful that the Congress now feigns concern for Hindus and resorts to spreading misinformation and half-truths.” He said all the ingredients used in puja were exempted from GST. The Central Board of Indirect Taxes and Customs (CBIC) also denied the claim.
Recalling the chain of events, Shrinate said: “The list of 10 ingredients used in puja does not include Ganga Jal. India Post was forced to remove the announcement to justify the BJP’s lie. But truth manifests itself. The GST authority issued a notification saying the order passed on August 8 and October 3 stands cancelled and there will be no tax on Ganga Jal. This was obviously done under Congress pressure.”
She rubbed the message in: “Just think of it, the self-styled contractors of the Hindu religion cheat the devotees. They indulge in profiteering from essential Hindu rituals. And then they lie. It is not only about religion. It is about the tendency to cheat and lie. The Prime Minister lies. Yesterday, home minister Amit Shah went so far as to claim that the first IIT, IIM and AIIMS were built by the BJP. It is not only the spokespersons and the troll army who use lies as a weapon.”