New Delhi: Uncertainty loomed large over calling a special parliament session for passage of the Goods and Services Tax (GST) Bill, with the Congress remaining non-committal on its support to the BJP-led NDA government over it.
To reach a consensus to call a special session of parliament for the passage of the GST Bill, Parliamentary Affairs Minister M. Venkaiah Naidu on Tuesday met Mallikarjun Kharge, the leader of the Congress party in the Lok Sabha. But the Congress remained non-committal about its support.
"The Centre wants to call a special session and they are consulting all parties. We cannot comment on a special session unless it sees the amended clauses and the final bill. The party would first read the fine print," Kharge told reporters after meeting Naidu.The Congress leader also said that one has to see which provisions have been accepted or deleted in the bill. "The GST bill has to be passed by both the houses of parliament separately and not by calling just a joint session."
The Congress, which is strongly opposed to the GST Bill in its existing form, is insisting on a few key amendments.Meanwhile, the government said it was making all efforts to develop a consensus among all political parties over the GST Bill, saying that passing the bill was more important now in the backdrop of the current global economic situation."We are meeting all political parties and trying to create agreement over an extended monsoon session," Naidu said at a press conference here, adding: "I hope a consensus will be reached." The minister also made an appeal to all parties to "act in national interest".
"I appeal to all parties to act in national interest by respecting the mandate of people. If some parties want to oppose any legislation they have all right to do so but it is undemocratic to stall the house and not allow taking up bills which are of paramount national interest," said Naidu."This is even more important in the backdrop of current economic situation across the globe," he added.The senior BJP leader also appealed to the political parties to ponder over what happened in the monsoon session.
"I appeal to all political parties to ponder over what has happened in the monsoon session and take steps forward to cooperate towards functioning of the parliament and taking up important legislations," Naidu said.Denying charges that the Modi government is not reaching out to political parties, he said: "This government is committed to continuously reach out to all the political parties and seek their cooperation in order to keep national interests over political interests."
"I have been and will be meeting leaders of various political parties to discuss all issues and seek their cooperation."The government shall, if required, call the second part of the monsoon session in order to pass important legislations," Naidu stated.He also said that sincere efforts have been made by the NDA government to accommodate the views of the opposition ever since the formation of the government last year.
"Several important bills were referred to either the select committee of Rajya Sabha or joint parliamentary committee. It is pertinent to note here that most of these bills were brought by earlier regime." Though the government got the land bill passed in the Lok Sabha with an overwhelming vote in its favour and the GST bill passed without any opposition, Naidu said, "yet it accommodated the point of view of the opposition and referred the land bill to joint committee of both houses and GST bill to select committee of Rajya Sabha".
Advocating the necessity of GST for the country's growth, he said, "the GST bill has gone through various levels of scrutiny over the last eight years during which an empowered committee of state finance ministers has gone through its various provisions". "Finally, the select committee of Rajya Sabha has also submitted its report after a broad consensus has been reached," Naidu told reporters."The delay in passage of the GST bill will hamper the aspirations of the people of India and in particular the dreams of our youth, who are thirsting for jobs," he added.
Naidu also said the GST was estimated to add between 1.5 percent to 2 percent to the GDP. "A reputed international rating agency Moody's has clearly warned a couple of days back that India's growth story is running the risk of being jeopardised on account of slow progress on major legislative proposal like GST," he said.