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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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Congress To Use Tribal Card to Regain Power in the Country

Congress to use tribal card to improve countrywide position

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Congress Chhattisgarh
Congress will be using the tribal card to regain dominance and their plan of action will begin from Chhattisgarh. Wikimedia Commons

BY SANDEEP PAURANIK

In order to regain dominance in the country, the Congress is mulling using the tribal card. This plan of action is to be first implemented in Chhattisgarh.

Riding on the success of the Assembly and urban body elections, the Congress feels that it can increase it base through tribals as they constitute 8 per cent of the total population.

The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in the first three Assembly elections in the state, after its formation in 2000, recorded huge victories and came to power. But after the Assembly elections held last year, the scenario changed. After registering a victory in the Assembly elections and then in the urban body polls, the Congress showed that it still dominates the tribal areas.

Rahul Gandhi Congress
Former President of Congress Rahul Gandhi gave an important message while innaugrating the National Tribal Dance Festival in Raipur. Wikimedia Commons

The Congress gave the responsibility of the tribal areas to the tribal leader of Madhya Pradesh Umang Singhar which eventually helped the party. Now, the party is planning to spread out nationwide through Chhattisgarh.

Former party president Rahul Gandhi, while inaugurating the National Tribal Dance Festival in Raipur, gave a message to the tribals who are here to participate in the festival that the Chhattisgarh government is working for all the sections and this is the reason why there has been a downward trend in naxal attacks and the state economy has also improved.

The Congress is planning to publicise the improvements in Chhattisgarh throughout the country because the tribal population in the state is 32 per cent.

BJP media panellist Sandeep Sharma, however, claims that the party’s base has not shrunk. He said till Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh were not divided, the Congress was strong in the area but in the elections held after three years of the bifurcation, the BJP won the Assembly elections and was in power for 15 years. Though we faced defeat in the 2018 elections, the only reason was that people wanted a change but they were not angry with the BJP, he claimed.

The BJP won in the Lok Sabha elections and the margin in the urban body elections was also not much. So, it would be inappropriate to say that the BJP’s base has shrunk, he said adding that in one year the Congress’ base has declined by 9 per cent whereas in Assembly elections it got 12 per cent more votes and in urban body elections the margin was 3 per cent.

Congress
The Congress is planning to publicise the improvements in Chhattisgarh throughout the country. Wikimedia Commons

Analysing the political landscape of the state, political analyst Rudra Awasthi said, “When it was Madhya Pradesh then the Congress had stronghold in Chhattisgarh. Several big leaders were also from the state but after the formation of Chhattisgarh since Ajit Jogi was accused of being a fake tribal the Congress lost its stronghold over the tribals. Though it continued to dominate in some of the areas which helped it in regaining the power.

“As of now, the Congress has started including the tribals with the backward class. First Bhupesh Baghel was the state chief of the party and he was replaced by Mohan Markam as he became the Chief Minister. During the Assembly elections, the Congress talked about the identity of the tribals which helped the party. After winning the elections, the decisions of the Congress government were in favour of the tribals which helped the party in the urban body elections,” said Awasthi.

Also Read- Unity in Diversity is the Strength of the Country: Rahul Gandhi

The Congress is mulling over spreading its message to the tribals across the country through the three-day festival going on here. For this several senior leaders of the party will attend the festival and share the government’s schemes while giving the message that the Congress government in the state has brought a positive and a significant change in the lives of the tribals. (IANS)