Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley on Monday said the winter session of Parliament, which had started with much promise of a détente between the government and the Opposition, was “threatened with a washout.” This diminished significantly the chances of the passage of the Goods and Services Tax Bill, 2014.
Mr. Jaitley made the remark in a blog post he released right after an inconclusive meeting between government managers in Parliament and Congress floor leaders. “The last session of Parliament did not function. The current session is also threatened with a washout. The reasons for the washout of the current session keep changing by the hour,” he said.
Parliamentary Affairs Minister M. Venkaiah Naidu, who was part of the meeting with the Congress that included Leader of the Opposition in the Rajya Sabha Ghulam Nabi Azad and his deputy Anand Sharma, only said that “we shall be meeting again.”
Sources present at the meeting said there was nothing specific that was discussed about the Bill, since the Congress pleaded the excuse that leader of the party’s parliamentary party Mallikarjun Kharge was not present.
The Congress, which had appeared to be thawing on the GST issue at the beginning of the session, continued its aggressive stance against the government, from the day a Delhi court refused to exempt Congress president Sonia Gandhi and vice-president Rahul Gandhi from personal appearance in the National Herald case.
On Monday, the party raised the issue of atrocities against Dalits in the NDA-ruled Punjab and an alleged reneging of an invitation to Kerala Chief Minister Oommen Chandy for two functions attended by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in the State.