NEW DELHI: Though the Opposition is almost breathlessly waiting for the Monsoon session of Parliament to get under way to corner the government on Lalit Modi travel papers scandal and the Vyapam scam, on which they sense a public outcry, the government is convinced that much of its woes are dues to the upcoming Bihar elections and sees it as build up for that. But given the current political atmospherics, it is not just the Opposition, but the allies, the SAD, the TDP, the Shiv Sena and the supporting parties, the AIADMK and the BJD who are also coming up with dissenting notes.
The biggest fallout of this, a senior minister admitted, are the two crucial Bills, the GST and the Land Acquisition, on which two Parliamentary Panels had been working hard to submit the report to meet the Monsoon (session) deadline. Already there seems to be a rethinking on whether the GST deadline of July 2016 as declared by Finance Minister Arun Jaitley could be altered, primarily because the AIADMK, with a sizeable presence in Parliament, has been putting up a strong resistance to the Bill, the revenue sharing ratio and other details that are not to its liking.
Added to this, the Punjab and Andhra Pradesh governments, led by the two NDA allies-- the SAD and the TDP-- too have refused to the back the government draft in its current form in the Rajya Sabha Select Committee. A Joint Session of Parliament to get the crucial Taxation Reform Bill off the ground, may no be such a “good strategy’’ for the government as without 50 per cent of the states supporting the GST, the Constitutional amendment cannot be carried through. It has to get the approval of majority of the states to become an Act of law that can be implemented. Since the BJP is in power in only seven of the 29 states, it would need the Bill to be passed in at least eight more state Assemblies to meet the Constitutional requirement.
The other option would be to accept the Congress’ six-point demand, which includes lowering of the taxation ceiling from 26-18 per cent, rolling back destination tax, among others, which may not be acceptable to the BJP Governments in Gujarat and Maharashtra. However, given the mood in the Congress party, according to Anand Sharma and Madhusudan Mistry, it is ready to do little else other than “waving black flags’’, especially in the Rajya Sabha. Sharma was the one, who gave a commitment to the government last session that once the Bill was referred to the Select Committee, it( the Congress) will not come in the way of its passage.
On the other contentious Land Acquisition Bill, the top echelons of the government are waiting for the Prime Minister to return from his ongoing six-nation foreign trip to formulate a strategy. With prominent Sangh-affiliates opposing the Bill before the Joint Parliamentary Committee, “the government will formulate the final position with clearance from the PM,” the minister said. Hence, the Committee Chairman has asked to go slow.