Congress delays negotiations on GST bill after luncheon meeting

  • HT Correspondent, Hindustan Times, New Delhi
  • Updated: Dec 16, 2015 00:01 IST
Congress leaders Mallikarjun Kharge, Jyotiraditya Scindia and KC Venugopal at Parliament during the winter session. The Congress wants to buy time before resuming negotiations on the GST bill as it plans to keep a close watch on a number of developments. (PTI)

The Congress wants to buy time before resuming negotiations on the GST bill as it plans to keep a close watch on a number of developments, including the situation in Arunachal Pradesh, a move seen by BJP managers as a delaying tactic.

The Congress remained non-committal at Monday’s luncheon meeting on the GST hosted by parliamentary affairs minister Venkaiah Naidu, citing the absence of the party’s Lok Sabha leader Mallikarjun Kharge. On Tuesday morning, Naidu telephoned Kharge’s residence and was informed the Congress leader was taking a bath. Though he waited for Kharge to return his call, “till evening, no call came from Khargeji,” Naidu said.

Later, when Naidu ran into the Rajya Sabha’s deputy leader of Opposition Anand Sharma, the latter told him, “We will get back to you soon” but couldn’t give any specific date for the next meeting.

“We expect they will let us know when they want to sit for further talks on the GST. The government is always willing to sit with the Opposition on the GST. I have been meeting many Congress leaders informally but we don’t know when the next meeting on the GST will take place,” Naidu said.

The government managers think the Congress will not commit itself on the GST before December 19 when top party leaders are scheduled to appear in court for the National Herald case.

Leader of the Opposition in the Rajya Sabha Ghulam Nabi Azad said on the one hand the BJP wants to discuss the GST and other issues with the Congress and on the other hand it is “doing everything” to destabilise Opposition-ruled states.

“For any meeting, there has to be a meeting ground. So far there is none. The BJP should adopt the policy of live and let live and respect the mandate of the people in Opposition-ruled states... We are closely watching the developments in Arunachal Pradesh and many issues are linked to that,” he added.

Even as the government maintained it had replied to the Congress’s three key demands on the GST bill, Azad said they just met finance minister Arun Jaitley and Naidu informally over lunch.

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