Congress has thrown a spanner in the government’s plans to convene a special session of Parliament to push through a Constitution amendment bill for ushering in GST. Stating that “nothing has changed between the Monsoon session and now”, Ghulam Nabi Azad, leader of the Opposition in the Rajya Sabha, said after the Congress Working Committee meeting on Tuesday that a special session would serve no purpose unless action is taken against External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj and Chief Ministers of Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh.
“They did not take any action. We have informed the Parliamentary Affairs Minister that nothing has changed between the Parliament session and now…The Prime Minister has failed to take action. We told them what is the fun of having a special session. The previous session could not transact any business because we had demanded something. That demand stands. You call a special session tomorrow and people will ask what happened to our demand,” he said.
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“They (the government) will have to first tell us before the session what action they are taking,” he said.
A fortnight ago, Parliamentary Affairs Minister Venkaiah Naidu met Leader of the Congress in Lok Sabha Mallikarjun Kharge and spoke to Azad over the phone to gauge the Congress mood on the government’s plan to convene a special session.
Azad also made it clear that Congress would support the GST bill only if the changes sought by it are accepted. “We are for the passage of GST (bill) if our amendments, which are in national interest, are accepted,” he said. A political resolution passed by the Congress Working Committee Tuesday reiterated the party’s commitment towards implementing GST, “provided the central government addresses the existing shortcomings in the bill.”
Besides demanding that the 18 per cent ceiling rate be specified in the bill, the Congress has demanded scrapping of the proposal to levy an additional one per cent tax, inclusion of tobacco and tobacco products, alcohol for human consumption and electricity supply and consumption in the ambit of the bill. The party has also demanded that the share of the states in voting in the GST council must be enhanced to 75 per cent and the setting up of a GST Disputes Settlement Authority. ‘