The NDA floor management is in full swing to ensure that the goods and services tax (GST) Bill is passed by the Rajya Sabha (RS) in the Monsoon session itself after the select committee’s majority support to the statute.
Though going by the numbers on the basis of the dissent notes – Congress, AIADMK and the left parties have expressed their reservations on different provisions of the GST Bill – it will be difficult for the government to clear the RS hurdle where it lacks a majority. In the 245 member house, it requires two-third members to support the bill, and that is not going to be an easy task.
The Congress party has 68 members and along with two other partners, the UPA has 70 members in the Rajya Sabha – the AIADMK has 11 members and the left parties have 10 members (the Rajya Sabha list of members party-wise is here). So, going by the dissent notes, 91 members should vote against the Bill in the Rajya Sabha.
But, those in the know about the backroom deliberations point out that the government is trying to accommodate the views of the non-NDA parties as far as possible to find a way out for passing the Bill in the Monsoon session of Parliament which will continue till August 13.
“The passage of the GST Bill in the Upper House will require 50% of the members to be present and two-third of them voting in favour,” said a source keeping a close eye on the developments, adding that, “Congress may finally not issue a whip to its members to vote against it as the party would not like to be seen as scuttling the tax reform and AIADMK also is expected to agree to a solution which takes care of their revenue concerns in the final Bill”.
But the interesting part is, even if the BJP fails to push GST in the current session, it is not going to be a big loss to the over-arching reform that the GST seeks to achieve. The 1% additional tax on interstate trade is a bad idea and an exemption-filled GST will hardly yield the desired results. Without removing these flaws, the GST will remain an incomplete exercise.