NEW DELHI: Finance Minister Arun Jaitley today met Congress leaders in a bid to sort out differences for passage of the GST bill in Rajya Sabha and both sides agreed to meet further as the talks were inconclusive.
With just eight days left for the winter session, Jaitley and Parliamentary Affairs Minster M Venkaiah Naidu today held consultations with Leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha Ghulam Nabi Azad and Deputy Leader Anand Sharma.
Government is keen to get the bill passed in this session to facilitate the roll out of the measure from April next year. With the Houses, particularly Rajya Sabha doing minimal business in Winter Session, the government has not been able to push through its legislative agenda including GST.
The meeting today came as Government decided to make a fresh bid to break the logjam. External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj and Chief whip of Congress Jyotiraditya Scindia also joined the consultations later.
At the hour-long luncheon meeting in Naidu's office in Parliament both sides stated their respective positions after which Naidu merely said "we will continue to meet".
The meeting over the GST happens in the backdrop of a campaign of Congress in Parliament over National Herald case.
While the main opposition party has rejected the charge that it was blocking the GST Bill because of the court summons to party president Sonia Gandhi and her deputy Rahul Gandhi in the National Herald case, while BJP continues to insist there is a link between the two developments.
Government sources said that the Modi government is inclined to take Congress concerns on board for passage of the GST bill, a comprehensive indirect tax reform which will subsume all indirect taxes including excise and sales tax.
"But It all depends on whether Congress is interested in the passage of the GST bill or not. As far as provisions are concerned there are not much differences left now after the Arvind Subramanian report," the sources said adding nothing much can be done if the Congress and Rahul Gandhi set their mind against passage.
In today's meeting Jaitely made it clear that it is not feasible to put the tax cap in the Constitutional Amendment Bill while there is a need to talk to manufacturing states including AIADMK ruled Tamil Nadu for removal of one per cent additional tax on goods.
"The meetings will continue. Union Ministers will also meet Leader of Congress in Lok Sabha Mallikarjun Kharge," said a source. Jaitley had also spoken to some Congress leaders on phone yesterday.
Earlier Prime Minister Narendra Modi had invited Congress President Sonia Gandhi and former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on tea to discuss the GST impasse.
The main opposition party Congress has been demanding a simple GST and scrapping of the proposed levy of one per cent additional tax on goods.