GST passage frozen and Modi’s tea with Sonia turns bitter over Herald case

Cong not going to cooperate with govt in winter session for the passage of GST bill

GN Bureau | December 9, 2015



With the Congress not in mood to play along with the government on goods and services tax bill, the political consensus created by prime minister Narenedra Modi's initiative, seems to been wasted. The nation may have to wait for the GST bill.

An indication of Congress line of thinking was given by party leader Anand Sharma. He told media over that the GST debate could have to wait for the set of issues that the Congress plans to raise first in Parliament over the coming days.

Sharma said that the party plans to counter the ruling BJP not only over the National Herald controversy, but also challenge it over what he called a prolonged misuse of state organs and selective targeting of its leaders.

Other issues it wants to raise range from its demand for the sacking of minister of state VK Singh over his alleged “dog” remarks, to what Mr. Sharma described as financial misappropriations allegedly done by BJP leaders and their kin.

There was hope for the GST following Modi's meeting with Congress president Sonia Gandhi and former prime minister Manmohan Singh. In a bid to ensure that the Bill clears Parliament in the current session so as to meet the April 1, 2016, target for roll out of the GST, Modi held talks with Sonia Gandhi and  Manmohan Singh. This was after the Congress, over a set of three broad demands, had not allowed the Bill to be taken up for passage during the monsoon session in the Rajya Sabha, where the government is dependent on that party’s support for the two-thirds majority required to pass it.  But then the National Herald controversy happened. 

Meanwhile, the government also seems to have given up and the Modi regime no longer expects the Constitution (122nd Amendment) Bill, meant to introduce the GST, to clear Parliament in the current session.

However, the government is not betraying its anxiety in any manner. Finance minister Arun Jaitley said that efforts to create hurdles for the pending reform would amount to damaging the country. “India desperately needs the GST…anybody tries to create hurdles in the passing of GST will be doing great damage to the country… It’s extremely important and all parties must come together,” Mr.Jaitley told a TV channel, expressing disappointment over the absence of a response from the Congress to the recommendation of a government-appointed panel on keeping the revenue neutral rate for GST at 15 per cent.

Jaitley said he conceded that the GST was an initiative started by the Congress party and said that the party, in supporting its passage, would act fair to its own programme as well as to the country.

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