Retiring members of Rajya Sabha would have left with greater pride had they participated in the passage of the GST (goods and services tax) and compensatory afforestation bill, PM Narendra Modi said on Friday as the Upper House bid goodbye to 53 MPs, prompting a reply from Anand Sharma of Congress that it was the government’s job to ensure lack of rancour in Parliament.
Not one to adhere to the rules of conventional politics, Modi used a routine speech to drive home the point that GST and compensatory afforestation fund management and planning authority bills would have enhanced the revenue of states by thousands of crores. “The CAMPA fund is Rs 42,000 crore and each state would have got around Rs 2,000-3,000 crore each,” he said.
The PM’s swipe had Congress benches murmuring in disagreement and Sharma quickly responded, saying “Political opponents should not be seen as personal opponents … you should consider them as people with a different political ideology and treat them accordingly.”
He added, “We hope that an atmosphere is created where the current bitterness is eradicated as all people have to work together to build our society. The government’s role in building consensus is important. Opposition also has a role but government has a bigger role.”
The exchange reflected the polarised politics in Parliament as Modi, without naming Congress, blamed it for hindering development.
Modi said MPs in Rajya Sabha should work for the interests of the states they represent, adding that states stood to benefit the most from GST. “It would have been better if two critical decisions had also been approved,” he said. “Bihar would benefit from GST, UP would benefit from GST. Barring one or two … all states would have benefited.” He added that MPs, who will return to the House, will get another chance to pass the legislation.
Had the CAMPA bill been passed, it would have unlocked funds before the monsoon and the money would have reached the people. Though Prime Minister Narendra Modi did not directly refer to it, the bill’s passage has been hit by Congress MP Jairam Ra mesh’s amendment seeking to make consent of 50 per cent gram sabha members man datory for any CAMPA-funded project, envisaging situations like displacement of forest dwellers and tribals.
The Lok Sabha has al ready approved the constitu tional amendment but it re mains pending in Rajya Sab ha, where the ruling NDA does not have a majority.