The NDA government decided on Thursday to extend the Lok Sabha’s budget session by three days to May 13 as it gave itself more time to negotiate with other parties on the Goods and Services Tax bill and the contentious land bill.
Government strategists have decided to bring both the GST and land bills in the Rajya Sabha and Lok Sabha next week respectively even as it added a few new bills to the legislative agenda for the ongoing session. The Rajya Sabha session is already scheduled until next Wednesday.
The cabinet committee on parliamentary affairs (CCPA) headed by home minister Rajnath Singh, which met on Thursday evening to extend the Lok Sabha session, discussed the prospects of passing the GST bill in the upper House where the government is in a minority. The strategists decided to give more time to get the Congress on board but also braced to pass it without the largest opposition party’s active support.
The land bill to replace the existing ordinance, which was initially planned to be brought on Thursday, will now come only next week. “We will bring the land bill and the GST bill at an appropriate time,” parliamentary affairs minister Venkaiah Naidu told HT.
While the gover nment is determined to pass the GST bill during this session, it may reconcile to referring the land bill, soon after its introduction in the Lok Sabha, to a joint committee of the Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha headed by a BJP MP. A joint panel can also be the only way to ensure the BJP enjoys a majority in the committee to review the bill.
Sources indicated the party has not finalised the names of its representatives for the panel although the Opposition - especially the Congress, Left, JD(U) and the Trinamool - is unlikely to soften its position on the land bill.
To pass the GST bill smoothly, the government requires at least the tacit support of the Congress. In the CCPA meeting, senior ministers concluded that the Congress is “vacillating” and “different leaders are privately talking in different voices”. The government, however, is averse to sending the GST bill to any more parliamentary reviews to avoid “unnecessary delays”.
Government sources indicated that the GST bill, passed by the Lok Sabha on Wednesday, may be brought to the upper House on Monday.
Accusing the government of trying to bulldoze the parliamentary system, CPI(M) leader Sitaram Yechury said, “The government should have called an all-party meeting on GST to take the Opposition on board.”