The BJP and the Congress are said to be narrowing down differences on the GST bill.
- The government has expressed hope for a consensus and narrowing of differences with Congress on the GST bill
- PM Modi on Monday told the BJP parliamentary party executive that efforts should be made to reach out to other parties as well
- There might be an agreement on Congress’ demand of a tax
The prospects of the GST bill seem to have further brightened with government and Congress set to engage in further consultations over the long pending tax reform and the parliamentary affairs ministry planning a five-hour debate in Rajya Sabha. However the date is not set yet.
After the government expressed hope for a consensus and narrowing of differences with Congress, PM Narendra Modi on Monday told the BJP parliamentary party executive that efforts should be made to reach out to other parties as well. The agreement to have a debate and the demand of regional parties to be consulted itself seemed to suggest progress, considering that the differences looked irreconcilable not long ago.
The PM’s remarks came after Samajwadi Party leader Naresh Agarwal complained that the bill was becoming a bilateral affair between BJP and Congress and warned that his party could stall the legislation. CPM leader Sitaram Yechury has also called for more consultations over the legislation.
The decision to plan a five-hour debate is seen as a sign that an understanding on Congress’s demand that a tax rate of 18 per cent be “ring fenced” could be in the offing, with the government agreeing to it in the central GST law which will be enacted after Parliament and state legislatures approve the constitution amendment bill pending in Rajya Sabha.
BJP leaders like finance minister Arun Jaitley have held several rounds of formal and informal discussions with Congress leaders and the exchanges are now focussing on resolving the nitty-gritties of the legislation. There seems to be concern in Congress that an all-party meeting might serve to highlight its isolation on the issue and dilute its capacity to insist on certain provisions.