Congress Meet On Sunday May Decide Fate Of GST

Congress Meet On Sunday May Decide Fate Of GST

The government refuted the Congress charge that it had not conveyed how it had tried to accommodate the opposition party's GST demands. (AP photo)

New Delhi:  The fate of crucial legislation like the Goods and Services Tax or GST bill depends on the outcome of a meeting of top Congress leaders on Sunday night.

The Congress, which has disrupted Parliament, especially the Rajya Sabha over the National Herald case, today indicated that there could be a change in the strategy in the offing.

The party today stated that its protest in Parliament is aimed at seeking accountability on issues like the continuation of General VK Singh in the Council of Ministers for his anti-Dalit remarks.

Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi said in Guwahati, "As far as the stalemate in Parliament is concerned, an impression is being given that we (Congress) are not interested on the GST issue. We have told the government that we have differences with them on three issues."

With the Congress trying to de-link its stand on the National Herald case and the GST bill, sources in the party say that there is a sense of worry over the negative perception the protests have been generating.

The government in an effort to indicate that it wanted the Congress on board for the crucial one tax for all India, GST, was planning a meet with Congress leaders on Sunday. It is now likely to wait for the Congress' stand after its weekend meet.

Over the last few days the Congress had taken the legal battle over National Herald case to Parliament and struck work. What was worrying the government was the fact that the Congress with the decisive strength in Rajya Sabha was linking the fate of the GST with the National Herald case. Sources in the Congress say that there is a section in the party which wants an end of the impasse in Parliament to support the GST.

A senior Congress leader said the party has been disrupting on different issues since the start of the session but it is difficult to sustain disruption. The party now has to find an escape route in form of a compromise with the government to let peace return.

Another senior leader in the Congress said that External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj's statement on her Pakistan visit could well offer a face-saving exit to the party.

To keep the government guessing on the GST, the Congress today claimed that the government is yet to revert to the party on the three key changes it had demanded in the GST bill.

Mallikarjun Kharge, Congress leader in Lok Sabha, today told NDTV, "We have read about some changes the government is ready to make but they are in form of suggestions given to the government by the Chief Economic Adviser. No formal communication has been received."

The government refuted the Congress charge. A senior minister said, "After the Prime Minister-Sonia Gandhi meeting, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley had briefed Anand Sharma of the Congress in great detail the changes government had agreed to as demanded by the Congress."

The Congress had demanded abolition for one per cent additional tax for manufacturing states, a cap on GST rate close to 18 per cent and an independent arbitration mechanism for supporting the GST. A government panel, headed by Chief Economic Adviser Arvind Subramanian, on December 5 accepted the demand for dropping the one per cent additional tax and a cap of only 15 per cent on GST rate.

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