The meeting sparked speculation on whether Mr Jaitley also sought Mr Gandhi’s help to clear the Goods and Services Tax (GST) Bill.
NEW DELHI: Finance Minister Arun Jaitley today met Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi, reportedly to invite him for his daughter’s wedding next month.
The meeting, five days before the winter session of Parliament begins, sparked speculation on whether the minister also sought Mr Gandhi’s to help clear the Goods and Services Tax (GST) Bill, the government’s big reform that is stuck in Parliament due to opposition from the Congress.
But both BJP and Congress sources said there was no discussion on GST today. The BJP sources however said the party will “open channels” and is “open to any suggestion on GST.”
Rahul Gandhi, meanwhile, has maintained that the government should speak with the leaders of the Congress party in the two houses of Parliament – Mallikarjuna Khadge in the Lok Sabha and Ghulam Nabi Azad in the Rajya Sabha – if it wants to discuss the passage of bills.
An all-party meeting is likely on Tuesday, November 25.
Mr Jaitley had earlier this month said that he was willing to reach out to any opposition leader, including Rahul Gandhi, for help to pass the crucial bill. The BJP-led government is in a minority in the Rajya Sabha or Upper House and a number of key reforms have been stalled by the Opposition there.
The Goods and Services Tax, aimed at doing away with more than a dozen state levies to create a single market, is to be enforced from April 1. But the deadline may be missed if Parliament does not pass the constitutional amendment in the winter session.
Once the GST Bill is passed, more than half of the states have to ratify it before Parliament passes another enabling bill to implement the new tax regime.
The Congress is opposed to states being given powers to impose one per cent tax over and above the GST rate. Also, it wants alcohol and petroleum products to be included in the new tax regime.
The Opposition, re-energised by the big defeat of the BJP in the Bihar elections this month, is expected to be doubly aggressive in its efforts to trip the government in the winter session.