Congress warns of House impasse over GST bill

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Sonia Gandhi calls meeting to form united stand on NDA’s policy decisions on GST, land bill, food security bill

Congress on Monday demanded that the government make major changes to the Goods and Services Tax bill.

NEW DELHI: Congress on Monday demanded that the government make major changes to the Goods and Services Tax bill, warning that the proposed tax reform could be the next victim of parliamentary blockade.

The meeting of Congress chief ministers, chaired by party president Sonia Gandhi, passed a resolution noting that BJP had stalled the GST bill brought by the UPA in 2011. It stated, “The present Constitution amendment bill to allow for GST has several shortcomings that need to be addressed before it finally becomes law.”

The bill was referred to the select committee of the Rajya Sabha following vociferous opposition from the Congress-led bloc in the budget session. The Centre expects it would be up for passage in the monsoon session.

But the Congress assault on the tax bill, led by former PM Manmohan Singh and Sonia, showed that the government could have a serious task at hand given that the Constitution cannot be amended in the joint sitting of Parliament — BJP’s expected route for a majority in case of blockaded legislations like the land acquisition bill.

Moreover, the amendment bill requires 2/3rd majority of the attendance in each House, a fact that may make Congress indispensable in the Rajya Sabha.

If the new tack is to force BJP to seek a “political deal”, it was evident at the CMs’ meeting. Congress slammed the Centre for fudging on higher allocations for states and withdrawing the funding for social welfare schemes like education, SC/ST welfare, drinking water, women and child development.

The CMs targeted the 14th finance commission, with party vice-president Rahul Gandhi mocking, “The government gives from the front door and takes away from the back door.”

With five of the nine chief ministers in attendance from the North-East and two from the Himalayan states of Uttarakhand and Himachal Pradesh, the day-long confabulations witnessed tremendous heartburn over the withdrawal of the “special category status” that has been so crucial to their industrial development.

Training guns at Narendra Modi, CM of Arunachal Pradesh Nabam Tuki said, “It has been one month that we eight CMs of the North-East sought an appointment with the PM. We have not got it yet.” Uttarakhand CM Harish Rawat mocked, “Modi stands for ‘corporate federalism’ and not cooperative federalism.”

The CMs also rejected the NDA’s land acquisition law, an announcement seen as the Congress bid to counter the Centre’s justification that it amended the UPA’s law on the demand of Congress-ruled states.

Source : Times of India

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