The success of Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and Prime Minister Narendra Modi in getting reform Bills passed in Parliament heavily depends on how they tackle Sonia Gandhi-led Congress party as the moves of other non-NDA parties will also depend on that.
Parliamentary affairs minister M Venkaiah Naidu meeting Congress chief Sonia Gandhi to end the deadlock on passing the goods and services tax (GST) Bill and the Real Estate Bill, and also hinting at the possibility of advancement of the Budget session of Parliament, is a good move by the government.
It is the responsibility of the ruling side to be proactive and be the first mover in clearing the logjam over any issue in Parliament, and to that extent, it is a positive sign that the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is willing to take the lead in moderating the past rigidities on both sides.
The dialogue process started with PM Narendra Modi’s invitation to the Congress president Sonia Gandhi and former prime minister Manmohan Singh ahead of the Winter Session needs to be completed fast so that a final solution on GST could be reached before the start of the Budget Session, which normally begins in the last week of February.
With most of the other non-NDA parties on board for passing the GST Bill, the NDA’s serious efforts to convince Congress party would help the government in increasing the pressure on the largest opposition party to change its stance.
Though the BJP is also banking on the chances of its numbers in the Rajya Sabha getting increased in the coming months, which will raise the chances of passing the reform Bills in the upper house with the support of other non-NDA parties, the first choice has to be making sincere efforts to bring Congress on Board.
In case of GST, the Congress has demanded, keeping the GST rate below 18%, scrapping of the additional one per cent levy for manufacturing states such as Gujarat and Maharashtra, and inclusion of tobacco, electricity and alcohol in the GST structure.
The government has already hinted at accepting the first two demands for a possible implementation of the GST from April 1.
The Congress party faced the threat of getting isolated in Parliament due to its rigid stance and obstructions in the Winter Session and the situation got salvaged to a certain extent with the passage of some of the Bills towards the end of the session.
The NDA government also did well by not introducing the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code, 2015, as a Money Bill in the Lok Sabha to pass it even without the consent of the Rajya Sabha, where it lacks a majority.
Both BJP and Congress have to begin in the Budget Session from there.
While it is not good for the Congress party to be tagged as obstructionist to any reform move by the government, the BJP has to also understand that its high-handedness of the past has only aggravated the situation.
The Budget session will be a litmus test for both the sides in this regard.