The GST bill is unlikely to meet its April 2016 deadline with day-long disruptions again not allowing the Rajya Sabha to discuss India’s biggest tax reform since Independence with only a day remaining in the monsoon session.
A section of the government has not ruled out extending the session beyond Independence Day to try and push for the passage of the goods and services tax (GST) bill this month. Prime Minister Narendra Modi would take a call on this, sources said.
The opposition would not allow the bill to be discussed or passed on Wednesday, sources told HT.
Considering the level of acrimony between the Congress and the BJP, an extension holds little hope for a rapprochement on the tax reform, NDA insiders admit.
The Congress’ protests on Wednesday didn’t allow a discussion on the constitutional amendment bill that will set the ball rolling for the GST which proposes a common market subsuming various central and state levies.
The bill will go to the Lok Sabha after getting the Rajya Sabha’s nod and it has to accepted by at least half of the state assemblies for the constitutional amendment to be carried.
Once the amendment is cleared, it will allow the government to bring in the GST bill that will have to be approved by Parliament — all before April 1, 2016 when the new financial year kicks in.
The failure to pass the constitutional amendment this session means that the government faces a near-impossible task of doing the same in the winter session.
Though the opposition outnumbers the government in the Rajya Sabha, ruling side has the support of many opposition parties. But for a constitutional amendment, numbers are not enough. The House also has to be in order to allow the votes to be counted.
Perhaps mindful of that, the Congress members were up on their feet as soon as finance minister Arun Jaitley tried to initiate a discussion on the bill. They trooped to the well of House, shouting slogans.
Deputy chairperson PJ Kurien requested the Congress members to allow a discussion on the bill. “This is your bill. You shouting members, GST is your bill. It is a baby of Congress party. If you want, you can vote against the bill ... no one is preventing you (from voting),” he said.
As protests grew stronger, he decided to call it a day -- a repeat of Tuesday.