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GST logjam: Govt mulls over all-party meet

GST logjam: Govt mulls over all-party meet
Highlights

In a fresh bid to break the logjam on the crucial GST Bill, the government is contemplating holding an all-party meeting soon as it is confident of the support of a larger number of Opposition parties on the issue. There is a view within the government that Congress is ‘single-handedly’ blocking the passage of the GST Bill for ‘other reasons’ and may not find support of many parties on this issue on a common forum.

“I am not ruling it in. I am not ruling it out. It can happen any time, on any issue,” Venkaiah Naidu

New Delhi: In a fresh bid to break the logjam on the crucial GST Bill, the government is contemplating holding an all-party meeting soon as it is confident of the support of a larger number of Opposition parties on the issue. There is a view within the government that Congress is ‘single-handedly’ blocking the passage of the GST Bill for ‘other reasons’ and may not find support of many parties on this issue on a common forum. Government sources said that a senior leader from the opposition camp had also suggested convening of an all-party meeting to break the logjam over the issue.

"I am not ruling it in. I am not ruling it out. It can happen any time, on any issue," Parliamentary Affairs Minister M Venkaiah Naidu told reporters when asked whether an all-party meeting would be called to ensure passage of the GST Bill in this session. Pressed further, Naidu said, "By Friday we will come to some conclusion." Asked from where the hope emits as Congress seems to have hardened its position on the measure, he said, "I am hoping against hope. I am an optimist." After failing to reach Leader of Congress in Lok Sabha Mallikarjun Kharge on Tuesday, Naidu had a word with him on Wednesday but remained tight-lipped about the outcome.

Though the government was keen to pass some bills even amid din, Rajya Sabha Chairman Hamid Ansari does not appear to be inclined to adopt this course. GST being a Constitutional amendment bill, chances of passing it in a din was all the more remote. Voicing his anguish over repeated disruptions in Parliament for which the government held Congress responsible, Naidu said, "Can democracy be a prisoner to politics of five? Can democratic functioning of Parliament be held back by 4-5 persons?"

The government has already been assured of support on GST by parties like BSP, NCP, JD (U) and BJD. It is also hopeful of the support of SP. There is a buzz that SP is in favour of an all-party meeting on GST. Assuring that the GST rate would be less than 18 per cent, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley on Wednesday hinted at accepting Congress' stand on scrapping one per cent additional tax but said the demand for incorporating the rate in the Constitutional Bill was not agreeable.

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