The Parliament’s monsoon session will start from July 18 with the passage of the Goods and Services Tax (GST) bill tipped as the top priority for the government.
The session with 20 working days will run till August 12. A total of 56 government bills have been kept on the agenda.
The Congress-led Opposition, which has differences with the government over the long-pending GST bill, plans to attack the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) over changes in the FDI policy, the failed bid to get membership in the Nuclear Suppliers’ Group (NSG), and price rise, among other issues.
After the meeting of the Cabinet Committee on Parliamentary Affairs that decided the session schedule, parliamentary affairs minister Venkaiah Naidu said, “We must get it approved in this session.” This indicates the government’s eagerness to pass the GST bill that has been pending in the Parliament since 2008.
Recently, PM Narendra Modi met Tamil Nadu chief minister J Jayalalithaa even as finance minister Arun Jaitley convened a meeting of state finance ministers to mop up support for the bill. While the Congress has stuck to its three demands, including a cap in the GST rate, many regional parties have pledged their support for the legislation that will replace the myriad local levies with a central tax.
Government sources told HT that more negotiations with the Congress are expected in the next few weeks to bring the principal Opposition party on board. “We have a wider support and we have enough numbers for GST but we would like to have all parties on board because it will have an effect on the states,” Naidu said.
In the meeting, both home minister Rajnath Singh and Naidu emphasised on passing as many bills as possible. Two earlier sessions were nearly washed out due to disruptions, delaying the passage of many bills. The ministers have also asked different departments to quickly prepare the bills to ensure that they can be placed in the House at the earliest.
Apart from the GST, key legislation includes clearance for ordinances on amending the Indian Medical Council bill, the dentists bill, and the enemy properties (amendment and validation) bill. The government also accords high importance to the child labour (prohibition and regulation) amendment bill and the right of persons with disabilities bill.
The Compensatory Afforestation bill is excepted to get a push with PM Modi speaking about it in his TV interview.