BJP plans anti-Congress offensive if GST not passed this session

New Delhi, Dec 15 (IANS) In an effort to take the Congress on board for passing the GST bill in the current winter session of parliament, the government would soon reach out to it. But if the opposition party remains adamant and does not allow the Rajya Sabha to work, BJP leaders will take to streets to protest against it, informed sources said.

The decisions were taken at a meeting between union Home Minister Rajnath Singh, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj and Parliamentary Affairs Minister M. Venkaiah Naidu.

The meeting, which was also attended by BJP president Amit Shah, was held at Rajnath Singh’s office in Parliament House on Tuesday.

“As a last attempt to take Congress on board on GST, Arun Jaitley and Venkaiah Naidu will soon meet Mallikarjun Kharge and Ghulam Nabi Azad,” said a union minister, who didn’t wish to be named, after the meeting.

Kharge is leader of the Congress in the Lok Sabha whereas Azad is Leader of Opposition in the Rajya Sabha. The Congress has deputed both the leaders to discuss the matter with the government.

The minister, who is also a senior Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader, also said that the party is chalking out a strategy if Goods and Services Tax (GST) is not passed during this session of parliament.

“After the session ends, a country-wide agitation programme will be launched against the Congress and its top leaders if GST does not get nod of Rajya Sabha in the winter session,” the minister said.

“We will inform the countrymen through these protests that to save its top leaders in the National Herald case, the Congress didn’t allow the Rajya Sabha to function, and due to this attitude GST like bill of such public importance could not be passed,” the BJP leader added.

Proceedings of the Rajya Sabha, where the government does not have a majority, have been disrupted by the Congress over several issues in this session.

However, to clear the logjam over the GST bill, the government and the opposition party held discussions on Monday. These were unsuccessful, but it was decided to hold further round of discussions soon.

The Congress demands include a cap on the GST rate at 18 percent, deletion of the provision which allows imposition of 1 percent tax by additional levy and an independent dispute resolution mechanism.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi had reached out to Congress president Sonia Gandhi and former prime minister Manmohan Singh last month to break the logjam. Then also no agreement was reached but the two sides agreed to continue the dialogue.

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