The goods and services tax (GST) bill virtually fell off the government’s radar for the winter session on Friday after it failed to secure the Congress-led opposition’s support for passage of the crucial tax reform in Rajya Sabha.
During an all-party meeting called by Rajya Sabha chairman Hamid Ansari, the opposition parties agreed to ensure functioning of the upper House for the remaining three days starting Monday and allow passage of eight bills.
However, the GST bill was not discussed.
The government also agreed to send the juvenile justice bill, that aims to consider juveniles between 16 and 18 years as adults for heinous crimes, and the whistleblowers’ amendments bill to the Rajya Sabha select committees for further review.
The Opposition will also get a chance to raise intolerance, Arunachal Pradesh governor’s conduct, price rise and drought and flood, with the government agreeing to discuss as these issues on Tuesday and Wednesday, as demanded by the Congress, CPI(M) and other parties.
The Rajya Sabha has so far passed just one bill in the ongoing session. It will take up eight bills on Monday and Tuesday.
But the 122nd Constitution amendment bill to roll out the GST will have to wait at least till March next year for its passage which means that the NDA government will miss its April 1, 2016 deadline to introduce the new indirect tax regime across the country.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi had earlier met Congress chief Sonia Gandhi, for the first time, to end the GST logjam but differences between the two sides persisted over the principal opposition party’s demand for three key amendments.
In the meeting on Friday, Ansari said, “The House has recorded one of its worst performances,” as he sought cooperation from all parties to run it. CPI MP D Raja spoke first and said the Opposition wants to cooperate with the government on certain issues.
Leaders like Congress’ Ghulam Nabi Azad and Trinamool’s Sukhendu Sekhar Roy suggested the government should push only those bills on which consensus have emerged, virtually ending chances of the GST bill’s passage.
CPI(M)’s Sitaram Yechury told the government to call an all-party meeting on the GST.
Although the Akali Dal representative demanded the GST bill should be passed, finance minister Arun Jaitley or anyone in the government didn’t push the issue.