In a big breakthrough for the government, the Congress, which has been blocking the GST reform, has agreed to a debate on the proposal. The business advisory committee for the Rajya Sabha has allocated five hours for a discussion on the GST bill but did not allocate a date, signalling that negotiations with political parties were still underway.
Union Minister for parliamentary affairs Ananth Kumar that the government would prefer a consensus to majority, but with the growing support among regional parties for the Bill the government could go ahead and pass it even without the Congress support. Even regional heavyweights like Mamata Banerjee’s Trinamool Congress have come around to supporting the bill.
The Congress, which drafted the proposal when it was last in power, remains non-committal on the negotiations with the government over specifics of the bill. Speaking to reporters outside Parliament house, former finance minister and Congress MP P Chidambaram said talks are on with the government and Finance Minister Arun Jaitley has promised to return with ‘concrete proposals’. It needs to be recalled that Jaitley had met Congress leaders Ghulam Nabi Azad and Anand Sharma to discuss the bill.
On his part, Sharma said, ‘‘We will be waiting now for the next meeting which will be a formal consultation where a concrete response will be given for us to take this matter ahead in the right direction”.