Open for talks on GST, indicates Congress after PM-Sonia meet | india | Hindustan Times
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Open for talks on GST, indicates Congress after PM-Sonia meet

A day after PM Modi met Manmohan Singh and Sonia Gandhi to discuss the GST bill, Congress party indicated its key demands are not cast in stone and it wants to take the negotiations forward.

india Updated: Nov 29, 2015 01:08 IST
HT Correspondent
Congress
PM Narendra Modi met former prime minister Manmohan Singh and Congress president Sonia Gandhi at 7, Race Course Road in New Delhi on Friday. Congress leaders on Saturday said they want to take the negotiations on GST Bill forward. (PTI)

A day after Prime Minister Narendra Modi met his predecessor Manmohan Singh and Congress president Sonia Gandhi to discuss the goods and services tax (GST) bill, the principal Opposition party indicated its key demands are not cast in stone and it wants to take the negotiations forward.

Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi met a few leaders on Saturday, including the party’s Lok Sabha leader Mallikarjun Kharge, to take their feedback on the GST negotiations. Gandhi will meet some other senior leaders on Sunday before the Congress formally responds to the government’s proposals discussed during Friday’s meeting at the PM’s residence.

Asked if there was any meeting ground between the government and the Congress on the GST, party leader Anand Sharma said, “We are not saying it’s non-negotiable. Our demand is not at all partisan politics. Let’s try to take it forward. We will meet again and we will see what the government comes back to us with.”

Read | PM Modi discusses GST with Sonia, Manmohan; another meet likely

Asked if there was any meeting ground between the government and the Congress on the GST, party leader Anand Sharma said, “We are not saying it’s non-negotiable. Our demand is not at all partisan politics. Let’s try to take it forward. We will meet again and we will see what the government comes back to us with.”

In this PIB-released handout photograph, PM Narendra Modi (C) in a meeting with former PM Manmohan Singh and Congress president Sonia Gandhi at 7 RCR in New Delhi, in the presence of finance minister Arun Jaitley and Union minister for parliamentary affairs, M Venkaiah Naidu. (AFP)

Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi met the party’s Lok Sabha leader Mallikarjun Kharge on Saturday over the GST bill. Gandhi will meet more senior leaders on Sunday before the Congress formally responds to the government’s proposals on the GST.

At Friday’s meeting, Sonia Gandhi reportedly demanded tobacco and alcohol taxes be part of the GST. The move is seen as a negotiating tool as Congress-ruled states such as Kerala and Karnataka might stand to lose if these products are excluded from the states’ taxation list.

At the BJP’s Diwali Milan function, parliamentary affairs minister Venkaiah Naidu said, “The meeting (between the Congress and the government) was positive. We will have more talks,” indicating the government is bracing for prolonged negotiations with the Congress on GST.

Sharma questioned the government’s “hurry to push the GST” and pointed out that other important bills are also pending in Parliament.

In the meeting convened by the PM, the Congress had pointed out that “India’s competitors” have such tax rates between 14% and 16%. “Earlier, in his meeting with the FIIs, Rahul Gandhi had categorically said the GST must cater to industries as well as consumers,” a source said.

Meanwhile, Rahul Gandhi’s key aide Kaushal Vidyarthee took a jibe at the PM on Twitter, saying, “Dear PM Modi, U didn’t need 18 months, 3 land ordinances, Bihar defeat, sluggish economy to meet Opposition Leaders.”

Read | ‘Public pressure’ forced Modi to invite Sonia, Manmohan: Rahul