Prime Minister Narendra Modi made a strong pitch for multi-party support for the Goods and Services Tax (GST) Bill that the government wants to pass in the monsoon session of Parliament, scheduled to begin on Monday.
Addressing an all-party meeting called by the government on Sunday, Mr. Modi said, “GST is of national importance; the issue here is not which government gets credit for its passage. All of us represent both the people and parties and let’s keep national interests above everything else.”
He also thanked all political parties for the stand taken by them on the recent incidents in Jammu and Kashmir. “Various parties have given statements on Kashmir events which benefited the country. This has sent a right message and I thank all the parties for the same,” he said, while complimenting them for speaking in “one voice.”
The Opposition on its part said the passage of the GST was affected by “a lack of trust between the States and the Centre.”
“How can you proceed in this context?” Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad asked.
Congress chief whip in the Lok Sabha, Jyotiraditya Scindia said, the party “wants a concrete draft proposal from the government on GST. If we know how they plan to address the three contentious issues, we can revert.”
The next meeting between the government and the Congress is expected to take place on Tuesday.
CPI(M) leader Sitaram Yechury raised objections to the dialogue process. “The passage of the GST Bill cannot be an issue of bilateral negotiation between the government and the Congress,” he said at the meeting. Mr. Kumar then assured him that the government would be speaking to all parties, individually. The Opposition wants to corner the government on the recent Supreme Court interventions on the imposition of President’s Rule in Uttarakhand and Arunachal Pradesh, and the incidents in Jammu and Kashmir, the government’s unsuccessful NSG bid, floods in some States, and the agrarian crisis.
Later on Sunday, Lok Sabha Speaker Sumitra Mahajan also presided over a meeting of floor leaders of all parties and hosted a dinner that was attended by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.