With China’s economic troubles creating ripples across global markets, the Modi government is showing renewed determination to take steps, including legislative ones, to pep up the Indian economy. The government is likely to reconvene the monsoon session of Parliament in an attempt to push key pieces of legislation such as the pending Goods and Services Tax (GST) Bill through the Rajya Sabha, parliamentary affairs minister M Venakaiah Naidu said after meeting Congress party leaders here.
Naidu, who met leader of Congress party in Lok Sabha Mallikarjun Kharge, appealed to all political parties to cooperate for smooth functioning of Parliament in the “larger national interest”.
“After discussions (with political parties), the government shall, if required, call the second part of monsoon session to pass key Bills. I appeal to all political parties to keep in mind the national interest. Parliament should function.
There is no substitute to healthy debate in democracy,” said Naidu. “The Bills on GST, real estate regulation and land acquisition are very important. Delay in their passage will hamper the aspirations of people, in particular, of the youth,” Naidu told reporters. He said BJP had an open mind on amendments to its reform measures.
The Modi government, which has a self-imposed deadline of April 1, 2016, for rolling out GST, could not get the Constitution (122nd Amendment) Bill passed in the Rajya Sabha due to opposition from the Congress party. The ruling coalition is now trying to muster support from Opposition members for favourable voting when the session is reconvened. The Congress demanded that the GST rate be mentioned in the Constitution and opposed a 1% temporary tax on interstate supply of goods proposed by the government for its inconsistency with the GST structure. The party’s vice-president Rahul Gandhi has so far maintained that Parliament disruptions could end only after external affair minister Sushma Swaraj discloses her family’s alleged financial transactions with controversial cricket administrator Lalit Modi.
If the Congress party does not come on board, the government will need support from almost all regional parties to secure two-thirds majority of all present and voting on the Bill. The stand of the AIADMK — which demanded exclusion of petroleum products from GST and change in the voting pattern in the proposed GST Council to increase the say of states — is crucial.
Though the dates are yet to be finalised, the monsoon session is expected to be reconvened some time in September.
The session, which proved largely unproductive due to the stand-off between the ruling and Opposition parties, was adjourned on August 13 but has not been called off.