As last resort to get GST Bill passed, government may call special session


The BJP and Congress have both issued a whip to its members asking them to be present in the House.

With just three days left of the monsoon session, the government is making a last -minute effort to find a way to get parliamentary approval for the Goods and Services Tax (GST) Bill. The Constitution (122 Amendment) Bill, 2014, has been included in the Rajya Sabha’s revised list of business for Tuesday.

The BJP and Congress have both issued a whip to its members asking them to be present in the House.

With fissures in the Opposition coming to the fore, the government is planning to talk to the Congress on the pro-reform GST, according to sources. However, given the Congress stand, the government is mulling over other options to ensure that the GST timeline did not get disturbed. If the government is unable to ensure its passage in the ongoing session which ends on Thursday, it could consider implementing its Plan B– calling a short special session of both Houses ofParliament to pass the GST Bill, according to sources.

Sources said the session could be called anytime after August 15. The Rajya Sabha is to take up the bill after it was examined by the Select Committee which has recommended some amendments. The Bill, seeking to replace all indirect taxes with a uniform levy, will then have to be referred back to the Lok Sabha.

The Bill has already been passed in Lok Sabha. However, the biggest hurdle for the government is the Rajya Sabha where the Congress is 68 in strength and the BJP 44. Being a Constitution amendment, the House would need to be in order for the bill’s passage. The government is hoping to rope in parties like the 15-member Samajwadi Party, 12-member Trinamul Congress and AIADMK with 11 mps.

Finance minister Arun Jaitley took on the Congress on Monday saying Sushma Swaraj and that in reality the Opposition party was unwilling to allow passage of the GST bill.

Congress leader Jairam Ramesh said the party was not against debating the GST bill on the floor of parliament, if government dropped its “arrogance” and reached out to opposition.

Another Congress spokesperson Ajoy Kumar said there were neither moves by the government to reach out to opposition nor by Prime Minister Narendra Modi to break his silence and address the issues raised by them. A senior Congress leader said, the government was trying to convey that they (Opposition) was coming in the way of passage of the GST Bill, by attempting to bring it amidst pandemonium.


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