Opposition MP says govt suffering from Cinderella syndrome, while CPI(M) alleges NDA sabotaging Bill
With only six working days of the ongoing winter session left, the likelihood of the passage of the goods and services tax (GST) Bill became remote because of the continuing disruption of parliamentary proceedings by the Opposition. Also, neither the government nor the Congress showed any keenness to meet again to take forward their negotiations on the issue.
The Opposition parties on Tuesday ensured repeated adjournments of the Rajya Sabha over the alleged Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) raids at the office of Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal. The Congress protested the “interference” of the governor of Arunachal Pradesh with the activities of the state government and over summoning of winter session of the Assembly “without the state government requesting for it”. The issue is likely to dominate Congress protests on Wednesday as well. In the Lok Sabha, the Congress staged a walkout to protest alleged atrocities on Dalit youths in Punjab.
Parliamentary Affairs Minister M Venkaiah Naidu and Finance Minister Arun Jaitley had met Congress’ Ghulam Nabi Azad, Anand Sharma and Jyotiraditya Scindia on Monday. The meeting was inconclusive, primarily as it was felt that Congress leader in the Lok Sabha Mallikarjun Kharge should also be present. Kharge was away in Karnataka.
On Tuesday, Kharge returned. According to sources, Naidu phoned Kharge to find whether the two sides could meet but there was no response from the Congress side. A senior Congress leader, in a reference to the government unwilling to accept his party’s three demands on GST, said there was no use “meeting when there was no meeting ground”.
A senior minister said the government was hopeful of a change in mood of the Congress post the hearing in the National Herald case on December 19. “Anything is possible in the last three days of the session,” the source said, confirming that Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) MPs have been issued a “three-line whip” to be present in their respective Houses from Tuesday until the end of the session on December 23.
In the Lok Sabha, Biju Janata Dal’s Bhartruhari Mahtab said during a discussion that unless the GST Bill was passed its benefits were unlikely to accrue before 2019. "How long can this country wait? Will we wait till the 12th hour," he said, likening India to Cinderella of the fairy tale who in her rush loses her slippers at midnight. He said the earlier government also suffered from the Cinderella syndrome, which generally refers to an unconscious desire that somebody will take care of you.
At the BJP Parliamentary Party meeting, Jaitley told party MPs that Congress was “changing its stand” everyday on the GST. The matter was also taken up by BJP leaders at a separate meeting with party chief Amit Shah during which they discussed how Congress was disrupting both the Houses on one pretext or the other.
Meanwhile, the Communist Party of India (Marxist) or CPI(M) blamed the government for parliamentary logjam which was stalling the GST Bill, claiming a section of the ruling dispensation was "sabotaging" it. "We have told the BJP to call an all-party meeting on the GST issue but it has not been called yet. We suspect the government itself is sabotaging GST, a section in the government is against the GST," CPI(M) chief Sitaram Yechury said.