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The contentious Goods and Services Tax (GST) Bill has been shelved for this session of Parliament, it became clear on Friday, after an all-party meeting in Rajya Sabha chairperson Hamid Ansari’s chamber drew up a list of legislative and other business for the remaining four days.
Leader of the Opposition in the Rajya Sabha Ghulam Nabi Azad, asked a pointed question at a press conference whether it was the government itself that did not want to pass the GST Bill, said: “I have said earlier, too, that the government is not interested in the functioning of Parliament. Any government that is serious about running Parliament does not go for the misadventure of toppling a government [a reference to the happenings in Arunachal Pradesh] or raid a Chief Minister’s office during a Parliament session, thus providing fodder for the Opposition in the House.”
“There is no decision on GST Bill,” he said.
Senior sources in the Communist Party of India (Marxist) said on Friday that it appeared the government was not so keen on the GST Bill as there was opposition to it from within the RSS, especially its affiliate, Swadeshi Jagran Manch (SJM).
“The government is saying the Opposition is not allowing the GST Bill to be passed, but everyone knows it was opposed by the then Gujarat Chief Minister, Narendra Modi, and Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chauhan.”
The Left parties have also been saying that while the BJP at least sought the opinion of the Congress, it has not consulted them. On Tuesday, CPI(M) general secretary Sitaram Yechury had said: “We have told the BJP to call an all-party meeting on the issue but it has not been called yet. We suspect the government itself is sabotaging GST; a section in the government is against GST.”
Mr. Yechury, like Mr. Azad, had accused the BJP of setting such an agenda outside Parliament so that the House did not function: “When Parliament is in session, incidents which divert attention are not undertaken by the government normally. Whatever happened in Arunachal Pradesh and in the Delhi CM office are indications in this direction.”
This comes at the end of a day when Mr. Ansari made an appeal at an all-party meeting for the Rajya Sabha to function. It was eventually agreed that only those Bills would be taken up on which there was consensus.
Later, asked about the GST Bill, Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs Mukthar Abbas Naqvi said Finance Minister Arun Jaitley had made an appeal to the Opposition to pass the Constitution (Amendment) Bill as well in the conducive atmosphere that emerged after the meeting. “But I don’t think the main Opposition party has an agreement on this. It has not clarified its position.”
From: The Hindu