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BW Businessworld

Non-Congress Opposition Verdict: GST Vote Unlikely In Winter Session

Opposition MPs say Congress protests over the National Herald case make it difficult to pass the GST bill; disruption of parliament proceedings slammed

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A vote on the Goods and Services Tax (GST) bill is unlikely in this winter session of Parliament. And the Congress is not at all justified in disrupting the proceedings in Parliament on a matter that is directly linked with the judiciary. This is what the non-Congress opposition thinks, notwithstanding the Congress claim of support of other Opposition parties for its Parliamentary tactics, in the wake of the National Herald case.

Thursday, incidentally, was listed as the day when the Rajya Sabha was to have a discussion on the bill.

BW Businessworld spoke to a cross-section of Opposition leaders on the Parliamentary stalemate, particularly in the Rajya Sabha. And, the near-unanimous view to emerge was that the GST bill would be the casualty of the Congress's belligerence in the wake of the National Herald case.

"GST is not a possibility this session," said Samajwadi Party's Naresh Agrawal.

Trinamool Congress's Sultan Ahmad said: "There's no way that the GST can be passed this session".

Nationalist Congress Party's D.P. Tripathi went a step further: "Why only GST; other legislations, too, go for a toss (in this winter session)".

Janata Dal (United), a party supporting the Congress, agreed with the assessment of most other Opposition parties.

These parties, at the same time, castigate the Congress for its disruption of Parliament. "Congress shouldn't have taken this stand. But I think that disruptions will continue till 19th (when Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi have been asked to appear in person in a court)," said Tripathi.

Agrawal added: "We don't agree with the Congress strategy of creating pandemonium in the House at all. But it's the government's responsibility to convince them."

A top Janata Dal (United) leader requesting anonymity said that that the Congress strategy is wrong because it's dealing with a fallout of a judicial process.

Party MP Tyagi, however, blames the government managers for using provocative language instead of a conciliatory tone, after the initial Congress charge. BJD's B. Mahtab said that the Congress MPs who are protesting without a valid reason should be thrown out of the House and added that the Lok Sabha Speaker may actually issue a warning to the party MPs, after their unruly behavior on Wednesday.

The government had hoped to pass the GST Constitution amendment bill with the support of these regional groupings, in addition to the Congress support.

The Congress, however, claims the support of other Opposition parties and repeats the position that its current protest in Parliament and GST "are not linked".

"We are getting the support of non-SP parties on this perception that this is an act of political vendetta. Also, our position on the GST is not affected by this. We are yet to receive any communication from the government on the three points raised by our leaders with the PM," said Congress MP Abhishek Manu Singhvi.

This claim notwithstanding, apart from the JD (U), the Trinamool is supporting the Congress on this.

Meanwhile, Delhi is also abuzz with conspiracy theories. While popular perception is that the Congress is seeking to make political capital out of a legal case, certain conspiracy theorists claim that "the High Court judge in this matter has a history of bias against the Gandhis."

Another theory claims how the Modi government "failed to manage things - which the Congress used to do so well - by letting the hearings in the matter happen after Dec 23, by when the session would have ended, and the GST deal sealed."