GST row: Congress yet to take a stand while AIADMK and BJD play hardball with government on legislation

NEW DELHI: Even as the government back-tracked from its resolve to take up the GST bill for consideration on Wednesday, and rescheduled it to next week, senior Congress leaders have decided to hold fresh rounds of strategy meeting on their stand after it sensed that two government friendly non-NDA parties — AIADMK and BJD — were playing hardball with the government on the crucial legislation.

The government had earlier indicated that it would push the GST bill in Lok Sabha on Wednesday. Congress move came after Opposition parties reached out to it leaders, amid the government’s efforts to arrive at an agreement for getting the Constitution amendment bill passed. They urged Congress to take a common stand in both the Houses.

Congress chief Sonia Gandhi spoke to her party colleagues on the emerging situation. When contacted by ET, senior Congress leader Ahmed Pat e l s a i d , “Congress has not taken a final stand on the GST Bill.

Other likeminded parties will also be consulted by Congress on the issue.” The stand by AIADMK was that GST would lead to loss of revenue for Tamil Nadu, as it was a manufacturing state. BJD, on the other hand, has raised its opposition to some of the new amendments.

Sensing that influential government representatives had reached out to Congress for supporting the bill, a number of Opposition parties demanded the bill be referred to the standing committee. They staged a walkout, urging Congress to take “a united stand on common issues”.

The parties that had along Congress last week sought that the standing committee process the bill included the Janata Parivar, Trinamool Congress and Left. Congress has been closely coordinating with these parties in erecting a united opposition against the land acquisition bill.

However, in the pre-recess budget session, the unity among Opposition was broken when Congress voted with the government on the insurance bill and other Opposition parties supported the coal and mines bills. The government attempt was to get Congress to dilute its demand for the House panel processing the fresh amendments, something the empowered committee of state finance ministers had cleared.

The Constitution amendment bill requires the backing of two-thirds of both the Houses of Parliament and the stand of the Opposition parties are crucial in the Rajya Sabha were NDA is in minority. In place of the GST bill, the government has scheduled the guillotine on the demands for grants for various ministries on Wednesday. The Finance Bill listed in the Lok Sabha will now be taken up on Thursday.

Source: The Economic Times

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