As the government circulated copies of the draft Constitution Amendment Bill to bring Goods and Services Tax (GST) among MPs, top Congress leaders got into a huddle to chalk out the party’s strategy on Tuesday, ahead of its consideration and passage in the Rajya Sabha.
Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi met leader of the party in Lok Sabha Mallikarjun Kharge, former finance minister P Chidambaram and deputy leader of the party in Rajya Sabha Anand Sharma, among others, in Parliament House and discussed various points regarding the key tax reform legislation.
Congress sources said Gandhi will hold another round of discussion on the issue after which Sharma will meet finance minister Arun Jaitley to put across the party’s point of view.
“Rahul ji held discussions with top party leaders on the GST Bill and discussed the party’s strategy,” Kharge told PTI after the meeting.
Another top Congress leader said the draft bill has just been circulated and party leaders will react only after studying it in detail. “The draft of the bill has just come and let us study it first,” the Congress leader said.
There were strong indications that the most far-reaching taxation reform in independent India would be supported by Congress and all other major political parties.
The government has said talks are on with major political parties to build a consensus on the measure before it is taken up for consideration and passage in the Rajya Sabha on Wednesday.
“We would list the bill for consideration tomorrow in Rajya Sabha. We have talked to all parties and the Prime Minister had said at the beginning of this session that GST is in the interest of all. We hope the GST Bill will be passed with consensus,” parliamentary affairs minister Ananth Kumar told reporters after BJP Parliamentary Party meeting.
At the BJP meet, Jaitley also briefed the MPs about the bill.
The Goods and Services Tax (GST) Bill, which has been in the making for over a decade, entails introduction of a single indirect tax regime across the country.
According to top government sources, a fresh round of talks will be held on Tuesday with the main opposition Congress.
Jaitley had on Monday held consultations with leader of opposition in Rajya Sabha Ghulam Nabi Azad and Anand Sharma.
He had also met CPI(M) general secretary Sitaram Yechury, besides some other leaders. Later, along with Anant Kumar, he met Lok Sabha speaker Sumitra Mahajan.
The government, the sources say, is keen to bring about four key amendments in the Constitution Amendment Bill which will include the scrapping of 1% additional tax provision and grant of more powers to states for providing them full compensation for a period of five years.
The key Congress demand for rephrasing of the language for setting up of dispute resolution mechanism in the GST Council has also been agreed to by the government.