The Congress dashed the government’s hopes for the quick passage of the crucial GST bill to enable its rollout from April 1 next year with its announcement on Tuesday that calling a special session of parliament now would not serve any purpose.
Caught in a bind, the government is likely to decide its next step on Wednesday when top ministers gather for a cabinet meeting.
The Congress Working Committee (CWC), the principal opposition party's apex decision-making body, said in its political resolution it will support the GST bill "provided the Central government addresses the existing shortcomings in the bill".
After the meeting, Rajya Sabha leader of Opposition Ghulam Nabi Azad reiterated a party demand that rocked the monsoon session of Parliament a month ago “Convening of a special session of Parliament will serve no purpose unless the government takes action against Sushma Swaraj and BJP chief ministers," he said.
With the Left and AIADMK opposed to the bill, the government has a slim chance of passing the 122nd constitution amendment bill to roll out GST in the Rajya Sabha if the Congress too backs off.
A constitution amendment bill requires at least half of total MPs supporting the bill with two-third members present and voting in each House.
Parliamentary affairs minister Venkaiah Naidu held internal consultations on the GST bill and the possibilities of any special session but no concrete decisions were taken. “Prime Minister Narendra Modi will take the final call. Last week, Modi had asked his cabinet colleagues to wait for a few more days before deciding on the session,” said a source.
While a section of the government thinks there is no point calling a session as the Congress and AIADMK are not on board, another section feels a session may well showcase the government’s eagerness and determination to push reforms amid the signs of another economic slowdown.