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National Herald Case Now Threatens To Derail GST Bill

Apart from the PM reaching out to the Congress president and former PM Dr Manmohan Singh, some informal parleys were also happening between parliamentary party leaders of the BJP and the Congress. Now with the supreme leaders of the Congress challenged by the judiciary, there’s no way that it will continue

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The National Herald case now threatens to derail the GST bill -- as also the remainder of the winter session, which was to run till December 23.

As per the latest developments in the case, Congress president Sonia Gandhi and vice president Rahul have been asked to appear in person on December 19 in the metropolitan magistrate’s court in Delhi on a petition filed by BJP leader Subramanian Swamy.

Asked about the Delhi High Court rejecting their pleas for quashing the summons in the National Herald case, Sonia on Tuesday invoked the legacy of Indira Gandhi, and said, that “she was not scared of anyone”. Rahul called the court order “absolute political vendetta” and added that “he would continue to ask questions”.

Senior leaders of the Congress in and outside Parliament sought to remind one and all that Swamy “was a member of the BJP central committee” and that he was part of “the government’s dirty tricks department”.

While senior leaders like Ghulam Nabi Azad and Anand Sharma stopped short of saying that the case would hurt the GST constitution amendment bill, leaders like Satyavrat Chaturvedi – the chief whip of party in the Rajya Sabha -- were not so circumspect.

“This case (National Herald) would definitely have a bearing on the GST bill. There’s no way that Parliament would run today. I can’t say about the remainder of the term,” Chaturvedi told Businessworld.

The government side and its managers, meanwhile, were at pains to stress that they had no role in the matter that fell in the domain on the judiciary.

While the government had hoped that the return of Sonia Gandhi from the US would re-start the process of talks to narrow down the differences on GST, the National Herald case had just the opposite effect.

Apart from the PM reaching out to the Congress president and former PM Dr Manmohan Singh, some informal parleys were also happening between parliamentary party leaders of the BJP and the Congress. Now with the supreme leaders of the Congress challenged by the judiciary, there’s no way that it will continue.

The government must necessarily secure Congress votes in the Upper House to pass the constitution amendment bill by a two-third vote.

Government managers, however, now fear that the Congress storm-troopers would not allow both the Houses to function – at least till Dec 19, when the Top Two of the Congress have been asked to appear in the court. While both the Houses of Parliament were repeatedly disrupted by Congress members on Tuesday, they had run smoothly, much to everyone’s surprise, till Monday. In a piece on Friday, Businessworld had noted that overall the two Houses’ productivity till last week stood at 95 per cent.

All that, however, would change now.

The Congress may have argued that Swamy is the government’s dirty tricks department, but the truth is far more complex.

Swamy, often described as a one-man army against the Gandhis, was hailed by the RSS and the BJP’s loyal followers when the Government was perceived to be soft towards them. It’s a well-known fact that Swamy and the Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley don’t see eye to eye on most issues.

Swamy, however, counts the RSS and Modi as his sympathisers and it was actually Modi who wanted his entry into the party fold. But to argue that Swamy is government’s dirty tricks department would be stretching the point too far, say BJP leaders, “as Swamy is not the one to be bound by party boundaries, hierarchies and discipline”.

Read Also: Sonia, Robert & Rahul Face The Law