Did not block GST Bill: Congress

New Delhi, Aug 14 (IANS) The Congress on Friday refuted government claims that it stalled the Goods and Services Tax Bill in the monsoon session, asserting that the party was the author of the legislation.

“The allegation that Congress opposed the GST bill is baseless, malicious and a complete falsehood. Congress party authored and piloted the bill and BJP opposed it for several years and at various stages,” senior Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad said at a press conference here.

Azad said that the most strident opposition always came from the Gujarat government and the Gujarat finance minister. “I would like to make it clear that it is the BJP which is responsible for the blockade of the GST bill.”

He said that the Congress party in deference to the sentiments of millions of people raised the Lalit Modi and the Vyapam issues and was duty bound to ask Prime Minister Narendra Modi to take action against External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj and the chief ministers of Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan.

“It was but natural that these issues of deep concern for the people of the country would find resonance in parliament.”

“However, the BJP government has completely failed to walk the talk and address the concerns raised by the united opposition. Brazenly, it has thrown the blame for disruptions on the opposition in general and Congress party, in particular. This is not only a blatant lie, but misleading and malicious as well,” Azad said.

Questioned on reports of the government mulling a special session to pass the GST bill, he said: “We have neither been consulted nor we can have an official view. It (special session) is just hearsay. Courtesy demands and democracy demands that if they decide to do something then the opposition is consulted.”

Finance Minister Arun Jaitley on Thursday said the government was determined to try and roll out the GST system from April next year.

The Cabinet Committee on Political Affairs has not yet recommended proroguing parliament which means that the option remains open that a special session can be convened to pass the GST bill.

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