Prime Minister Narendra Modi has deputed Finance Minister Arun Jaitley to talk to the non-NDA parties, especially Rahul Gandhi’s Congress, for clearance of the goods and services tax (GST) in the Winter Session of Parliament beginning today.
Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi said yesterday in Bengaluru while addressing the students of Mount Carmel College that his party believes in GST.
Does all this mean that PM Modi’s expectation of introducing one of the biggest tax reforms from next year by getting the GST amendment Bill cleared in Parliament in this session, is just a few days away from turning into a reality?
Going by the tone of Rahul Gandhi while addressing students at Bengaluru, PM Modi’s call to the opposition parties to let Parliament function “constructively” so that it can fulfil “people’s expectations” may not cut much ice in terms of ensuring a fruitful Winter Session.
Though the students at Mount Carmel didn’t agree with Rahul Gandhi that PM Modi’s flagship schemes Swachh Bharat and Make-in-India are not working, putting him into an uncomfortable situation, his relentless attack on PM Modi’s working style shows that Congress is readying itself for a repeat of the monsoon session, which was almost washed out.
But, this hardly takes away anything from the fact that PM Modi has done well, though delayed, by throwing the ball in the Congress party’s court by making it clear that Finance Minister Arun Jaitley is ready to discuss and accommodate changes proposed by any party in the GST Bill.
Congress party is the originator of the GST and it would not like to be seen as derailing it completely and this is where lies the NDA’s chances – FM Jaitley must show eagerness in accommodating the changes proposed by the party like removal of 1% additional tax and a revenue neutral rate of 18%, while explaining why some of the other measures that the party wants like giving states dominant power to decide on GST terms are not in the interest of a workable tax system.
So, GST passage has turned into an interesting battle between the Congress party and the ruling NDA, and how far the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) succeeds in behind the scenes deliberations with the non-NDA parties will decide the fate of GST in this session.
Rahul Gandhi and Congress party must smell the coffee — the Mount Carmel incidence may be an indication that opposing everything that PM Modi is doing might not be a good idea, and may boomerang badly.
PM Modi has shown signs of a change in the BJP attitude in Parliament, it would be good if the Congress party also walks the Rahul Gandhi talk of need for discussions on important reform measures like the GST to find a way out.
The NDA government still has three and a half years left in its current tenure, it will be extremely unfortunate if it is not allowed to work.