Support to GST bill will be issue based and on merits: Cong

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Congress today struck a positive note on the GST bill saying its support to government in the passage of legislations would be issue based and on merits, notwithstanding BJP’s “open threats” to topple party governments in the backdrop of Uttarakhand developments.

Party’s senior spokesman Anand Sharma told reporters that there cannot be any cooperation possible with the government as it has continued unabated its “politics of confrontation” with the opposition.

“There is a world of difference between Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s precept and practice. He talks of cooperative federalism, but does exactly the opposite. In such a situation, any sort of cooperation is not possible”, Sharma said.

Attacking government for proroguing Budget session of Parliament to help promulgate an ordinance on Uttarakhand, which has been brought under President’s rule, he said it showed the “mind set” of the Modi dispensation of pulling down non-BJP governments first and then coming up with such actions.

Asked whether his statements meant that there cannot be any cooperation on the key reform measure GST which government planned to bring in the next session, Sharma remarked “it will be issue based, considering the merits”.

At the same time, he made it clear that there cannot be any constructive political engagement with the government.

Sharma’s statement is significant as it came a day after Finance minister Arun Jaitley had said that he agrees to the Congress demand that the proposed Goods and Services Tax (GST) rate should not go beyond 18 per cent, brightening early prospects of the passage of the legislation.

“I am in agreement with them that the taxation rate must be reasonable. I also agree with the spirit of suggestion that it should not go beyond 18 per cent. I have no difficulty with that,” Jaitley had said.

The Finance minister, however, has added that the principal Opposition party’s demand to fix the cap in the Constitution amendment bill itself is difficult.

Once passed, the GST law will replace the myriad local levies and usher in India’s biggest tax reforms.

Sharma’s statement also indicated that there has been divergence of view inside Congress on the issue.

Reports quoting former Union Minister Jai ram Ramesh had it that “The BJP should not expect any help when they are murdering democracy in Arunachal Pradesh, followed by Uttarakhand. The NDA government has vitiated the atmosphere in Parliament”.

(REOPENS DEL 44)

Ramesh had ruled out any possibility of cooperation to pass the bill in the backdrop of the Congress, up in arms against the BJP over the dismissal of its government in Uttarakhand.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi had met Congress president Sonia Gandhi earlier this year for their first ever meeting and discussed the GST issue, but the logjam remained.

Jaitley had said yesterday that he will reach out to the Congress again to get its support on the tax reforms.

Read more at: http://www.business-standard.com/article/pti-stories/support-to-gst-bill-will-be-issue-based-and-on-merits-cong-116033000823_1.html