Finance minister Arun Jaitley said on Monday the winter session of Parliament was threatened with a “wash out” and invoked Jawahar Lal Nehru to remind the Congress of the responsibility of MPs for the governance of the country.
“The last session of the Parliament did not function. The current session of the Parliament is also threatened with a wash out. The reasons for the wash out of the current session keep changing by the hour.
“The nation is waiting for Parliament to discuss public issues, to legislate and approve a historic Constitution Amendment enabling the GST. All this is being indefinitely delayed. The question we need to ask ourselves is ‘are we being fair to ourselves and this country’?” Jaitley wrote in a Facebook post.
The government and the Congress met on Monday in an effort to clear the logjam over the Goods and Services Tax bill. With just eight days left for the winter session, Jaitley, parliamentary affairs minster M Venkaiah Naidu and external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj held consultations with Leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha Ghulam Nabi Azad and deputy leader Anand Sharma.
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Congress demands include a cap on the GST rate at 18 percent, deletion of the provision which allows imposition of one percent tax by additional levy and an independent dispute resolution mechanism.
The finance minister also quoted a speech on the parliamentary system by Nehru to make his point. He said that the speech delivered on March 28, 1957 in the last day of first Lok Sabha by Nehru is “a must read for all of us”.
He quoted a paragraph from the speech in which Nehru had said: “Here, we have sat in this Parliament, the sovereign authority of India, responsible for the governance of India. Surely, there can be no higher responsibility or greater privilege than to be a member of this sovereign body which is responsible for the fate of the vast number of human beings who live in this country.
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Taking a dig at the Congress over frequent disruptions in the Rajya Sabha, Jaitley said: “Those who claim the legacy of Pandit ji must ask themselves the question, what kind of history are they making.”
Prime Minister Narendra Modi had reached out to Congress president Sonia Gandhi and former prime minister Manmohan Singh last month to break the logjam over the bill.
The bill intends to simplify the indirect tax regime in the country and broaden the tax base thus resulting in better tax-compliance due to a robust IT infrastructure.