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‘Special parliament session only after consensus on GST’

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New Delhi: The Union government will convene a special session of parliament to pass the goods and services tax (GST) bill – a constitutional amendment – only after a consensus is achieved among all political parties, including the Congress and the Left that are vociferously opposing the measure, official sources said.

Photo credit: youtube.com
Photo credit: youtube.com

The GST bill intends to create a harmonised system of taxation by subsuming all indirect taxes under one tax.

Government negotiators have reached out to Congress president Sonia Gandhi, vice president Rahul Gandhi and Leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha Ghulam Nabi Azad, but the outcome is not encouraging as Rahul Gandhi is still adamant on not supporting the bill till the party’s demands are met and changes accordingly made in the bill.

Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, Parliamentary Affairs Minister M. Venkaiah Naidu and Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi are talking to all political parties to reach a consensus on GST.

According to government sources, most of the parties are in favour of GST but the Congress and Left parties are still adamant on their stand. However, Samajwadi Party (SP) and the Trinamool Congress (TMC) have conveyed to the government that they will support the bill only after a broader consensus on the issue.

The SP has 15 and TMC has 12 members in Rajya Sabha, where the Congress has 68 members and the NDA 63, including the BJP’s 44. The government requires the support of at least 163 members of the 245-member house to pass a constitution amendment bill.

“There is a group in Congress party which is arrogant and whose imprudence on GST has created confusion. But we are still confident. In coming days, the bill will be passed,” Naqvi told IANS.

“Congress was also committed to GST and their only demand was that the bill be referred to a select committee which was met. The select committee has now submitted its report. The Congress should fulfill its commitment,” he added.

Despite the government’s confidence, it has few options for passing the bill.

A constitution amendment bill can be introduced in either house of parliament and has to be passed by each house by a two-thirds majority of members present and voting.

“GST is a constitution amendment bill. There is no provision for bringing a constitutional amendment through an ordinance or a joint sitting of the house. It must be passed by both houses of parliament. There is no other way to pass a constitution amendment bill,” constitution expert and former Lok Sabha secretary general Subhash Kashyap told IANS

To explore the possibility of passing the GST bill, the Cabinet Committee on Parliamentary Affairs had decided against immediate proroging of the houses when parliament’s monsoon session was adjourned sine die Aug 13.

The sources said the decision to reconvene the monsoon session would depend on the progress the government makes in getting the support of opposition parties on the GST Bill in the Rajya Sabha.

The task before the government is to pass the bill in Rajya Sabha where it lacks majority.

The GST, Constitution (122nd Amendment) Bill, 2014 was introduced in Lok Sabha on December 19, 2014, which passed it on May 6, 2015. It was referred to a select committee of Rajya Sabha on May 14, 2015.

The bill was introduced in the upper house on the penultimate day of the monsoon session after the select committee of presented its report.

Since certain changess are expected in the bill that the Lok Sabha passed, the bill will have to be again passed by the lower house once it clears the Rajya Sabha.

Naqvi said that the government definitely lacked numbers in Rajya Sabha, but as far as the GST is concerned, the numbers are positively in its favour. The government is talking to all the stakeholders with a positive mindset so that the new tax regime can be rolled out from its current deadline of April 1, 2016, the current deadline, added Naqvi.

Once it clears parliament, the bill will have to be ratified by 17 state assemblies before it is sent to the president for his assent.

Naqvi also took a dig at Rahul Gandhi for Congress party’s opposition to GST.

“Somebody’s aggression should not stall the progress of the country. Trying to throw a spanner in the country’s growth story is not aggression. It will boomerang on those people who are trying to stall the progress of the country,” Naqvi said, without naming Rahul Gandhi.

Parliament and state legislatures will have concurrent powers to make laws on GST but only the centre may levy an integrated GST (IGST) on the interstate supply of goods and services and imports.

(IANS)

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Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) Now Keen to Develop Young Leaders

The first camp in this regard will be held in Jhansi

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RSS, Leaders, BJP
The RSS will be holding camps in Uttar Pradesh to discuss ways to identify and groom young leaders. Pixabay

With most senior leaders in the BJP having retired from active politics, the Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh (RSS) is now looking towards building a new leadership. Later this month, the RSS will be holding camps in Uttar Pradesh to discuss ways to identify and groom young leaders.

According to a senior RSS functionary in Lucknow, the first camp in this regard will be held in Jhansi, possibly on June 29 and RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat will be attending it. Another camp is scheduled to be held in Lucknow.

“After Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Union Home Minister Amit Shah, there seems to be a dearth of second rung leadership in the bhBJP. There is a need to develop leadership that will carry forward the work initiated by these two leaders.

“Rajnath Singh is a senior leader, but his age is 67. He would have crossed 70 by the time the next general elections are held in 2024. We have to identify and inculcate leadership qualities in the younger lot,” the functionary said.

RSS, Leaders, BJP
The Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh (RSS) is now looking towards building a new leadership. Pixabay

He further said that identifying young talent that could be groomed for greater responsibilities was a continuous process in the organisation and it never stopped.

“It is not a sudden decision but the RSS leadership always has a vision for the future and thinks ahead. We keep finding young people with leadership skills,” the functionary added.

Earlier this month, the RSS chief had underlined the need for checking misuse of power at a four-day camp that he addressed in Kanpur.

“Those getting elected in a democratic set-up have immense power, but this does not mean that it should be misused. If the government falters at any point of time, the Sangh will give it advice and suggestions with a positive point of view,” he had said.

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The RSS chief had also discussed the topics of nationalism, social equality and service in his interaction with over 600 volunteers. He also focused on qualitative development of the Sangh volunteers and apprised them of his views on dedication towards society.

The RSS leadership is also expected to come to Lucknow for a separate camp at the end of this month. In Lucknow, the RSS leaders will pay homage to senior journalist Rajnath Singh Surya, who passed away earlier this month. Surya was also a senior RSS functionary.

Officially, however, the RSS office bearers said that they had yet to receive any programme of Bhagwat and said that such camps were a ‘routine affair’. (IANS)