New Delhi: Seeking to break the impasse over the Goods and Services Tax bill, the Narendra Modi government called an all-party meeting on Sunday, requesting support from the Opposition parties in the passage of pending legislations during the Monsoon Session of Parliament that will begin on Monday.
“We will support any bill which will be in the interest of the nation, people and growth. We will let the bills pass on basis of merit, will not obstruct passage of bills,” Leader of Opposition, Rajya Sabha, Ghulam Nabi Azad was quoted as said after the meet.
Hoping for meaningful discussions and outcomes, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said, “GST is of national importance, issue isn’t about which government gets credit. I hope for meaningful discussions and outcomes. Let’s keep national interests above everything else.”
Furthermore, Modi thanked all political parties for speaking in one voice on Kashmir issue.
Assuring that there should not be any hindrance in gaining consensus for the passage of GST bill, Union Minister of Urban Development Venkaiah Naidu said, “Majority of the states are in favour of GST bill, no political party has taken an open stand against it. I’m sure it will be passed. GST bill should be passed by consensus than majority. It will be good for the nation if it’s approved by consensus.”
Stating that all the parties assured full cooperation during the meet, Parliamentary Affairs Minister Ananth Kumar told ANI, “We had a very fruitful discussion. All parties assured full cooperation.”
However, stressing that they need consensus on GST bill, that has been pending for a long time due to stiff opposition from Congress, Kumar said, “All parties are holding discussions regarding GST bill, we want consensus to be developed on that. Congress has assured that they will support bills on the basis of merit. We have proposed 16 legislative business.”
CPM General Secretary, Sitaram Yechury, however remarked that GST bill is not a matter to be settled bilaterally between BJP and Congress. “We have been requesting the government since two years to call an all party meet to discuss GST bill and listen to our concerns to form consensus.”
On Friday, Union Ministers Arun Jaitley and Ananth Kumar reached out to senior Congress leaders Ghulam Nabi Azad and Anand Sharma with the Finance Minister saying the government is trying to build a consensus on GST Bill.
However, as Parliament meets for the Monsoon Session on Monday, sparks are set to fly with the Opposition, boosted by the Supreme Court verdict on Arunachal Pradesh, seeking to corner the treasury benches on a host of issues, including India’s failure to secure NSG membership.
Besides the political developments in Arunachal, which saw the installation of a new Congress dispensation in the state, the Modi government’s decision to seek a report from the Law Commission on the proposal for introducing a Uniform Civil Code are likely make the session a tempestuous affair.
The government is hopeful of the passage of the GST bill in this session amid indications that a number of regional parties have broken ranks with Congress on the issue and are willing to extend their support to the crucial economic reform measure.
Besides the GST, another key legislation pending passage is the Whistle Blowers Protection (Amendment) Bill, 2015, which was moved in December last year but the discussion on it had remained inconclusive. In the Budget Session this year, this bill could not be taken up for debate.
In the Lok Sabha, important pending bills include the Consumer Protection Bill 2015 and the Benami Transactions (Prohibition) Amendment Bill, 2015.
The last few sessions of Parliament have seen frequent face-offs between the ruling and the opposition benches but the second part of the Budget Session saw a relative improvement as far the completion of government business was concerned.
The session comes at a time when the ruling BJP’s morale is high after its maiden victory in Assam Assembly polls and its performance in Kerala and West Bengal elections.