Govt forms new strategy to garner opposition support on key bills
Before the end of the proceedings in the Rajya Sabha on Tuesday, the Narendra Modi government swiftly moved the Compensatory Afforestation Fund Management and Planning Authority (CAMPA) Amendment Bill in the upper house.india Updated: Jul 20, 2016 13:35 IST
Before the end of the proceedings in the Rajya Sabha on Tuesday, the Narendra Modi government swiftly moved the Compensatory Afforestation Fund Management and Planning Authority (CAMPA) Amendment Bill in the upper house.
The bill aims at “unlocking” of nearly Rs 41,000 crore earmarked for forest land which is lying unspent for about four years. Its passage will ensure expeditious utilisation of the accumulated unspent amounts available with the ad hoc Compensatory Afforestation Fund Management and Planning Authority (CAMPA).
Its introduction was opposed by the Congress party, which has demanded some amendment to the provisions of the bill. It has also demanded a consensus on it before it was brought to the House.
The bill was passed by Lok Sabha in May.
After the Congress’ opposition to the provisions of the goods and services tax bill, the government has a different strategy in mind to stop the principal opposition party from hampering the passage of CAMPA amendment bill in the Rajya Sabha.
The Congress party wants the rate of the goods and services tax capped at 18%, the removal of a proposed 1% additional levy on inter-state trade, and an independent dispute resolution mechanism for states.
The government is trying to isolate the Congress by spiriting the opposition and taking regional forces on board. PM Modi also dropped that hint when he asked senior ministers of his government in the last two days to reach out to regional parties to seek their support on the GST.
Unlike Congress, regional parties -- some of which are ideological rivals of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) -- are supporting the Centre’s move that will benefit states under their power.
The government has received a shot in the arm after Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar, a known baiter of PM Modi, came out in the open to support the goods and services tax bill. Kumar said the GST was in the “best interest” of the country.
The Janata Dal (United) chief even met Union finance minister Arun Jaitley on Tuesday. After his meeting with Jaitley, Kumar said his party does not approve of capping the tax rate, a key demand of political ally Congress.
He said such a clause would prevent the government from taxing a section of the people — such as those buying high-end vehicles — in emergencies.
Like Bihar, most of the states in India are consuming states and the GST is expected to benefit them hugely.
However, regional parties like the Communist Party of India (Marxist), which rules Kerala and Tripura, have been complaining about the Centre’s decision to engage with the Congress and taking others for granted.
So, the government has decided to tweak its approach and reach out to all other parties. Parliamentary affairs ministers Ananth Kumar and his other colleagues are expected to touch base with such regional parties to alley their fears.
Jaitley will travel to Andhra Pradesh and Telangana this week to meet their chief ministers. “He will have lunch with N Chandrababu Naidu and dinner with K Chandrasekar Rao,” a source said.
Telugu Desam Party (TDP) has six members in the Rajya Sabha and Telangana Rashtra Samiti (TRS) has three.
Senior ministers hinted that the government was in no hurry to rush through the GST bill and will take up only after this round of consultation with the opposition was over.