GST may get caught in BJP-Opposition one-upmanship

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Published on Jul 25, 2016 08:58 AM IST
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NEW DELHI: The Constitution ( Amendment) bill that will enable the rollout of the Goods and Services Tax (GST) might get caught in what appears to be a battle of one-upmanship between the ruling and Opposition parties in Parliament.

Upset over the NDA’s alleged move to scuttle the introduction of a private member’s bill concerning Andhra Pradesh in the Rajya Sabha on Friday, the Congress is learnt to be inclined to harden its stand on the GST bill.

Isolated in its opposition to the bill, the Congress was willing to give up its demand to cap the tax rate in the Constitution bill itself. The two sides were negotiating alternative options to address the issue.

After a face-off between Union minister Harsimrat Kaur and Congress leaders on Friday, an upset Opposition party is preparing to go on an offensive against the government. “How do they (government) expect us to cooperate on the GST bill when treasury benches do not allow us to move even a private member’s bill?” a senior Congress leader said.

The main Opposition party is enraged over repeated adjournments forced by the BJP members in the Rajya Sabha on Friday over a video uploaded on social media by Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) MP Bhagwant Mann on Thursday.

The Congress had issued a three-line whip to its members to be present in the House on Friday in an attempt to get the House to adopt party MP KVP Ramachandra Rao’s private member bill on granting special category status to Andhra Pradesh. The Congress had managed to garner the support of many Opposition parties and it was hopeful that the bill would sail through if put to vote.

Harsimrat Kaur Badal, supported by BJP MPs, however, forced an adjournment of the House over Mann’s action, as a result of which Rao’s bill could not be taken up. After the adjournment, Badal had a verbal spat with Congress leaders Renuka Chowdhury and Jairam Ramesh in the Rajya Sabha. Later, she threatened to move a privilege motion against the two Congress MPs for allegedly misbehaving with her, a charge denied by Congress leaders.

The Congress’ strategy over the GST bill will, however, depend on the attitude of other Opposition parties that have supported the bill. The incident of flogging of Dalits in a Gujarat village and abusive language used against BSP chief Mayawati by a UP BJP leader resulted in Opposition unity in Parliament last week. But regional parties are in favour of the GST bill as it serves the interest of states.

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