NEW DELHI: Government and principal Opposition Congress held a formal meeting for the first time in recent weeks to discuss the Goods and Services Tax Bill ahead of the Monsoon Session of Parliament but failed to break the impasse.
The developments in Arunachal Pradesh, where Congress has alleged that BJP has tried to topple the Nabam Tuki government, and the situation in Jammu and Kashmir in the wake of terrorist Burhan Wani’s encounter are likely to wash away the first few days of the monsoon session.
Government is reportedly reconciled to the fact that the GST Bill cannot be taken up in the first week of the session that begins on July 18. Finance Minister Arun Jaitley and Parliamentary Affairs Minister Ananth Kumar met Leader of the Opposition in Rajya Sabha Ghulam Nabi Azad and Deputy Leader of Congress Anand Sharma in Parliament on Friday afternoon to discuss the GST Bill.
The 45-minute interaction, which Congress described as just as a “preliminary meeting” failed to break the impasse but was a positive step towards building a consensus on the issue.
Both sides decided to go back to their top leaders and get back. A second round is likely to be held on July 19, sources said.
Jaitley and Kumar will brief Prime Minister Narendra Modi on the meeting while Azad and Sharma will discuss the matter with Congress Chief Sonia Gandhi and Vice President Rahul Gandhi.
“Consensus has to be reached. Consensus has been elusive. This was a preliminary meeting. We have to now hear from the government to what we have conveyed today. We will wait. It is only fair that we wait for them to come back to us,” Sharma said.
While the government says Congress demand of putting the tax cap of 18% in the Constitutional Amendment Bill is not acceptable, the main opposition has alleged that the BJP-led government is confrontationist and has refused to engage in a constructive dialogue.