The planned rollout of the goods and services tax (GST) from April next year may be in ‘danger’ after the government’s failure to get parliamentary approval for the enabling bill in the monsoon session, but the NDA regime is preparing to give it another shot after the Bihar elections in a last-ditch effort to meet the deadline.
“That danger is there but we haven’t lost hope. I am confident that public opinion will prevail over the Congress. Different states, industry and the youth want it. What is it that the Congress wants to do?” parliamentary affairs minister Venkaiah Naidu told HT on Thursday.
“The winter session can be advanced if they agree. Let’s bury the past and work for the larger interests of the country. We can fast-track the process by requesting states (to ratify the bill after parliamentary approval). We can still meet the deadline.”
Naidu’s remarks came a day after the Union Cabinet decided to recommend to the President to prorogue the monsoon session. The government was earlier hoping to get the Constitution (Amendment) bill enabling the GST passed by extending the session for a few days. The NDA government hopes the Congress may give up its adamant stance on the bill if the RJD-JD(U)-Congress alliance is defeated in the Bihar polls when results are announced on November 8.
The winter session of Parliament usually begins in the third or last week of November. Even if the Congress agrees to advance it by a couple of weeks, meeting the April deadline will be a difficult task.
After the Parliament passes the bill, it has to be ratified by at least half the state legislatures. It will be followed by the setting up of a GST Council that will finalise the nitty-gritty of the indirect tax regime. Finally, Parliament has to approve a model GST Bill for the states to adopt.
“The Congress is not going to retrieve its lost ground by these tactics. They are not allowing the country to move forward. The middle class reaction was evident in municipal elections in different states. They (Congress) are losing heavily. The Congress doesn’t realise that it (opposition to GST) is hurting them. The country’s growth will be affected. They are not hurting Modi. Modi is here to stay. He is Maker of Developed India (Modi),” said Naidu.
He said the BJP was “a force to reckon with” in many states like Tamil Nadu, Odisha and West Bengal and that has “made national parties and some regional parties take a different stand”.
“The media and the industry must have patience. They should know our numerical strength (in the Rajya Sabha). Nothing is wanting on the part of the government. We are just asking people to give us numbers in the Rajya Sabha (by voting for the BJP in state assembly elections),” said the minister.