With at least two more Opposition parties having affirmed their support to the GST bill in the Rajya Sabha, where the NDA is in a minority, the road seems smoother for the constitution amendment bill on which the government has staked so much.
During an otherwise scathing speech on adherence to the principles of the Constitution, JD(U) MP K C Tyagi made it clear that his party is in support of GST.
“I want to say this on record to the Leader of the House today, our leader Sharad Yadav is sitting here, Nitish Kumar is in Patna. We support you on GST. We are not in favour of economic reforms yet we support you on 49% (FDI in) insurance. We support you on the coal and mines bills,” Tyagi said. The JD(U) has 12 Rajya Sabha members.
On Monday, BSP chief Mayawati in her hour-long speech had made it clear her party would support the GST. “You need not offer me a cup of tea or even a glass of water,” she had told the government; the PM had discussed GST with Sonia Gandhi and Manmohan Singh over tea.
The BSP has 10 members in the Rajya Sabha. The constitution amendment bill needs a two-thirds majority to clear the 240-member House. The Trinamool Congress, which has already made it clear that it is in favour of GST, has 12 members of whom 11 can vote — Kunal Ghosh is in jail. The AIADMK with 12 MPs and the BJD with six, too, are on board. The NDA and possible supporters among independents add up to well over 60, and it is hopeful even the Congress may come on board. It is hopeful about the SP’s 15 MPs too. The 10 Left MPs, however, are unlikely to yield.
Sources say the government is unlikely to accept the Congress demand that an 18% cap be made a part of the constitution amendment, though there may be some headway on another Congress objection — the 1% additional levy that the current bill enables states to impose — and also on the GST Council. Sources say the Congress is pushing for the bill to be tabled only at the fag end of the session so that it can retain its bargaining chip.