Congress targets Modi government for imposing 18% GST on Gangajal; Central Board of Indirect Taxes denies the claim

BJP says Congress is misrepresenting facts; Congress functionaries share proof showing tax was levied in online orders of Gangajal

October 12, 2023 01:01 pm | Updated October 13, 2023 07:10 am IST - New Delhi

Congress President Mallikarjun Kharge. File

Congress President Mallikarjun Kharge. File | Photo Credit: ANI

The Congress and the BJP sparring on social media over Goods and Services Tax (GST) being imposed on Gangajal (water from holy river Ganga) has prompted the Central Board of Indirect Taxes and Customs (CBIC) to issue a clarification that puja items are exempt from GST.

On a day when Prime Minister Narendra Modi visited Uttarakhand, Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge raised the issue of taxing Gangajal in a post on X (formerly Twitter).

“Modi ji, the importance of Mother Ganga, the provider of salvation, is very high for a common Indian from birth till the end of their life. It is good that you are in Uttarakhand today, but your government has imposed 18% GST on the holy Ganga water itself,” Mr. Kharge said in a post in Hindi.

“Not even once did you think what would be the burden on those who order Ganga water to be kept in their homes. This is the height of loot and hypocrisy of your government,” he added.

BJP’s response

Responding to the post, BJP’s in-charge of IT cell, Amit Malviya, claimed that it is clearly mentioned under entry number 99 of Notification 2/2017 that water does not attract GST.

“No recent notifications have indicated changes to the GST rate on packed water bottles or Gangajal. For the Congress, to misrepresent these facts is not just a careless oversight but a deliberate propaganda to mislead,” Mr. Malviya said in a post on X.

“It is disgraceful that Congress now feigns concern for Hindus and resorts to spreading misinformation and half-truths,” he added.

Clarifying the issue, the CBIC, in a post on X said, “Gangajal is used in pooja by households across the country and puja samagri [puja items] is exempt under GST. All these items have been exempt since the introduction of GST”.

The CBIC said that GST on puja items was discussed in detail in the 14th and 15th meetings of the GST Council held on May 18-19, 2017 and June 3, 2017, respectively and it was decided to keep them in the exempt list.

However, after CBIC clarification, two Congress functionaries, who are attached to Mr. Kharge’s office, shared online the screenshots of the CBIC website which showed Gangajal was not listed under the category of puja samagri. They also shared screenshots of online orders of Gangajal, including through India Post, that levied a tax.

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