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Modi takes GST jibe in farewell note to 53 MPs

GST constitution amendment pending in Rajya Sabha where govt lacks numbers

Kavita Chowdhury & Archis Mohan  |  New Delhi 

Prime Minister Narendra Modi  speaks in the Rajya Sabha in New Delhi
Prime Minister Narendra Modi speaks in the Rajya Sabha in New Delhi

Bidding farewell to 53 members retiring from the Rajya Sabha, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday bemoaned at the end of the Budget session that the MPs (members of Parliament), who represent India’s states and Union territories, couldn’t see the passage of the Goods and Services Tax (GST) Bill.

“You will always have the regret you could not see the crucial GST Bill being passed during your tenure. Bihar would have benefited from GST; Uttar Pradesh, too. In fact, barring one or two states, all states would have benefited from GST," said Modi.

The GST Constitution Amendment Bill is pending in the Rajya Sabha, where the government is in minority, primarily because of the opposition by the Congress.

Later, junior minister of parliamentary affairs, Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi, said the government was hopeful of passing the GST Bill in the monsoon session. He said the numbers would be more favourable for the government by the time the House meets again. “But since GST is a constitutional change, Congress' support will be necessary,” he said.

The Congress will continue to be the single largest party after the biennial elections to the Rajya Sabha, but the gap between itself and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) will reduce.

The government said the just-concluded Budget session, despite the Agusta controversy, could accomplish substantial legislative agenda. According to Naqvi, this was made possible with senior ministers Arun Jaitley and M Venkaiah Naidu reaching out to Opposition leaders, who also rose above “political prejudice” to offer constructive opposition.

The minister also said that a recent meeting chaired by Rajya Sabha Chairman M Hamid Ansari discussed the need to change several rules of procedure of the Upper House to make its functioning smoother.

The Budget session was scheduled from February 23 to March 16 and then a month-long recess from April 25 to May 13. The session was prorogued during the recess period to allow the government to issue a couple of ordinances. When Parliament convened again on April 25, 2016, it was a new session. The Lok Sabha session ended two days in advance on May 11, while the Rajya Sabha was on Friday adjourned until the next session.

In this analysis, the two sessions have been treated as one Budget session. It was one of the more productive sessions in recent years despite the Agusta controversy.

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First Published: Sat, May 14 2016. 00:19 IST