The GST bill is likely to be taken up in Rajya Sabha on Wednesday.
NEW DELHI: The BJP-led government prefers Tuesday, the Congress, Wednesday. There is a new tussle between the two, this time over which day the Goods and Services Tax Bill should be presented in the Rajya Sabha.
The government is likely to relent, with sources saying the crucial reform is expected to be brought for the approval of the Upper House only on Wednesday now as the Congress is using its numbers as veto.
The Congress, sources said, does not want the bill on Tuesday as its chief Sonia Gandhi will not be in Parliament. She will be away campaigning in Varanasi, Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s constituency in Uttar Pradesh, which votes in assembly elections early next year.
The BJP would have liked the bill to be presented on Tuesday for the very same reason; the debate and passing of the bill would draw attention away from Mrs Gandhi’s visit.
Mrs Gandhi is not a member of the Rajya Sabha but the Congress says her presence in Parliament is needed for regular consultations on a day such a crucial bill is taken up.
To indicate its reluctance to take up the bill on Tuesday, the party has cited the non-availability of its leader in the house, Ghulam Nabi Azad (who is the leader of opposition in Rajya Sabha), as the reason it wants GST pushed to Wednesday. Mr Azad is also the party’s leader in charge of UP and will accompany Mrs Gandhi, who is expected to launch an all-out attack on PM Modi in his constituency along with the state unit chief Raj Babar who also is a member of the upper house.
To beef up its stand, the main opposition party has quoted rules that that the government needs to circulate the bill with amendments among all lawmakers to give them time to study it before the discussion.
That is expected to be done this evening or tomorrow morning. Senior Congress leaders will brief the party’s MPs on their discussions with the government so far on Tuesday.
While government sources said all GST issues are now resolved, Congress sources said there is still no agreement over its key demand that a cap on the rate of GST be mentioned in the bill.
Last week, the government held extensive negotiations winning the support of most parties as the GST bill, which needs the constitution to be amended, must get the support of two-thirds of the Rajya Sabha.
The bill replaces a mesh of state and central levies with a national sales tax.