Kharge said that one has to see which provisions have been accepted or deleted in the GST bill.
Indicating that the monsoon session of Parliament may be revived to push through key legislations, especially the goods and services tax (GST) bill, the government started consultations Tuesday with leaders of parties to gauge the mood in the opposition camp.
“After discussions, the government shall, if required, call the second part of the monsoon session to pass key legislations,” Parliamentary Affairs Minister
M Venkaiah Naidu told reporters. “We don’t want to take a unilateral decision, we don’t have a majority in Rajya Sabha. I appeal to all political parties to think and act in national interest. Parliament should function, there is no substitute to healthy debate in a democracy.”
Unsure of the opposition stand, Naidu said: “Bills like GST, real estate regulation bill and land bill are very important. The delay in passage of the GST bill will hamper aspirations of the people of India, in particular the dreams of the youth who are thirsty for jobs.”
The monsoon session ended August 13 but it wasn’t prorogued to retain the option of re-convening Parliament on short notice. The session was a washout due to daily disruptions by the opposition seeking the resignation of External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj, Rajasthan Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje and Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan over the controversies surrounding them.
Sources said if the opposition comes on board, a brief session may take place early September.
Naidu met Congress leader in Lok Sabha Mallikarjun Kharge and said the Government will go in for a session with an open mind on amendments to bills. “There is no reluctance in talking,” he said. He did not disclose details, saying amendments suggested by Kharge to the GST bill “could be approved only inside” Parliament, not outside.
Kharge, on his part, said the Congress would first wish to see the revised GST bill.
When reporters pointed out that it was Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhiwho called the shots, Naidu said he was willing to meet Congress president Sonia Gandhi and Rahul, if need be, to ensure smooth running of Parliament.
On the GST bill, Naidu said Finance Minister Arun Jaitley had addressed most concerns of both manufacturing and non-manufacturing states. Citing a study by international rating agency Moody’s, he said India’s growth story risked being jeopardised on account of slow progress on major reforms like the GST.
Kharge told The Indian Express after his meeting with Naidu that Congresssupport for the GST bill could not be taken for granted.
“The government,” he said, “will have to do some give-and-take if it wants to get the bill passed.”
“What we will do in Parliament and what will be our strategy will be decided only after the session is convened. No party will reveal its strategy before hand. We will take a call when the session is convened. Notice has to be given at least 14 days in advance,” Kharge said.
“He (Naidu) only told me that the government would like to convene a special session for the GST bill. I told him that I will discuss the proposal with Sonia Gandhi. He will have to talk to other parties as well. By then, I would have discussed the matter with our high command and given our opinion,” he said.
“Let the government bring the GST bill as it is as was introduced by the UPA government or accept the suggestions proposed by the Congress in the select committee. We will see (the bill) and if there is consensus, we are ready to pass the bill. You should accept certain suggestions or if you disagree convince us why they disagree,” he said.
On the government criticism that the Congress was standing in the way of economic development, Kharge said, “there is a saying in Hindi: ‘ulta chor kotwal ko daante’. This is like that. All this is falsehood. They should reflect on their conduct when they were in the opposition. How many times did they block bills and how many times did they disrupt Parliament. If they are so concerned about the country and its economic progress, why did they oppose when we brought the GST bill in national interest. It was the BJP which had been blocking GST all these years.”
“Why did the BJP then not tell the Chief Minister of Gujarat, who is now the Prime Minister, to support the GST bill in the interest of the country? If they are so concerned about interest of the country, why did they then oppose FDI? Why did they change and dilute the land acquisition Act which was passed unanimously? We brought in the insurance bill. When the UPA government wanted to push economic reforms, they blocked. And now they are giving us sermons,” he said.