After a stormy exchange of words in the last few days over the National Herald issue, the Modi government on Monday reached out to Congress leaders to resolve the differences over the Goods and Service Tax (GST) Bill’s provisions. Talks between finance minister Arun Jaitley and Leader of Opposition in the Upper House Ghulam Nabi Azad and Deputy Leader Anand Sharma, however, remained inconclusive and achieved only an understanding to meet again.
With just over a week of the winter session remaining, Jaitley was not very confident of getting the GST Bill passed in Rajya Sabha. In an evening facebook post, the minister apprehended a “wash out” of the winter session and invoked Pandit Jawahar Lal Nehru to remind the Congress party of parliamentarians’ responsibility to govern the country through Parliament. The Modi government is in minority in the Rajya Sabha making the support of the opposition parties crucial for the Bill’s passage by two-third majority.
“The last session of the Parliament did not function. The current session of the Parliament is also threatened with a wash out. The reasons for the wash out of the current session keep changing by the hour. The nation is waiting for Parliament to discuss public issues, to legislate and approve a historic Constitution Amendment enabling the GST.
All this is being indefinitely delayed. The question we need to ask ourselves is, are we being fair to ourselves and to this country?” Jaitley said in the Facebook post.
Jaitley also quoted from a speech on the Parliamentary system by Pandit Nehru delivered on March 28, 1957 on the last day of the first Lok Sabha, which the minister said was “a must read for all of us”.
Parliamentary affairs minster M Venkaiah Naidu, external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj and chief whip of Congress Jyotiraditya Scindia were also part of Monday’s consultation on GST. After the hour-long luncheon meeting at Naidu’s office in Parliament, the minister said that both sides will continue to meet on the issue.
Congress leaders had last week accused the ruling coalition of running a political vendetta against the Nehru-Gandhi family as the Patiala House Court asked its President Sonia Gandhi and her son Rahul to appear before it on December 19 on a complaint filed by BJP’s Subramanian Swamy alleging cheating and misappropriation of funds.