They would either take a decisive stand or abstain from voting in order to maintain their apolitical image.
New Delhi, July 17: The recently conducted Rajya Sabha elections has paved the way for passage of the all-important Goods and Services Tax (GST). The coalition of NDA, which was outnumbered by Congress-led UPA in the Upper House, has now surged ahead of the erstwhile ruling alliance. With a large section of non-aligned Opposition, including the Trinamool Congress, Samajwadi Party, Janata Dal (United) and Biju Janata Dal (BJD) supporting the bill, the chances of passing it in the Rajya Sabha without Congress support has significantly increased. Interestingly, the stand of 9 nominated MPs, including celebrities like Sachin Tendulkar and Rekha would play a key role in seeking a majority to pass the bill.
GST, projected as the taxation reform mechanism, is one of the topmost priorities for the Narendra Modi government. However, since it lacks majority in the Upper House, the legislation has remained stranded due to the obstructionist attitude shown by Congress. The stance of grand old party has remained rigid since the past two years.
BJP has a total of 55 MPs in the Rajya Sabha. It enjoys the support of TDP (6), Shiv Sena (3), Akali Dal (2), PDP (2), along with 5 Independents. Together, the NDA forms a strength of 74 in the House.
To pass the GST, support of 2/3rd members of the House is required. In this case, the magic figure for the Government is 164. If the entire non-Congress section of Opposition would had supported the Government, the legislation would had passed. (ALSO READ: Rajya Sabha Elections Results Analysis: BJP gains, Congress dips – ‘Acche din’ ahead for Modi govt in Upper House?)
The Anti-GST block
The total strength of anti-GST block is 80. It includes 69 MPs of UPA (Congress-61, Kerala Congress-1, Muslim League-1, Independent-1), along with RJD, CPI, CPI(M). The above parties have raised three conditions before Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, before lending their support to the bill. This includes: i) GST rate to be capped at 18 per cent. ii) Abolition of 1 per cent additional levy on inter-state trade (as mentioned in the draft legislation) iii) Formation of dispute redressal mechanism.
How nominated MPs could play the role of game-changer?
The total strength of BJP-led NDA, combined with the section of Opposition which supports GST is 141. The government is 24 short of majority. If AIADMK’s 13 MPs end up supporting the bill, government would be short only by 11 votes. If they abstain from voting, the strength of the House at the time of voting would be 235. The two-third of it would be 151. This would leave the Government 10 short of achieving the two-third majority.
Mary Kom, Sachin Tendulkar, Bhanurekha Ganesan, Anu Aga, Sambhaji Raje Chhatrapati, Swapan Dasgupta, Naresh Jadhav, KTS Tulsi and K Parasaran would play the key role if the bill gets tabled in the House for voting. Would they take a decisive stand or abstain from voting in order to maintain their apolitical image?