GST not discussed at all-party meet, will support bills on merit: Congress

New Delhi, July 17 (IANS) The GST issue did not figure at an all-party meeting called on Sunday by the government, the Congress said adding that the party will support in Parliament any legislation that is in the nation’s interest.

Congress leader Jyotiraditya Scindia, speaking to reporters after the all-party meeting called on the eve of Parliament’s Monsoon Session, said the Congress would raise in Parliament issues like inflation, unemployment, interference of the central government in state affairs and incidents like Kairana.

On GST, Scindia, who is the party Chief Whip in Lok Sabha, said: “GST issue was not discussed in the all-party meeting. With regard to GST, the government has still to revert to us on the three demands (raised by the party). There have been intermittent discussions, but no solution has come.”

The three demands are one per cent additional levy to be implemented by states, 18 per cent cap on GST and setting up of a dispute resolution mechanism.

“We are still awaiting a concrete response from the government on these issues. It is very clear to the people of the country that this government is adamant,” he added.

Party colleague Ghulam Nabi Azad, who is Leader of Opposition in the Rajya Sabha, had told reporters ahead of the meeting that: “The Congress will support any bill which is in the interest of the nation, people and growth. We will let the bills pass on basis of merit… we do not obstruct passage of bills.”

He, however, did not clarify the party’s stand on the long-pending GST bill, which tops the government’s priority list.

He also said the Congress will raise the issue of the prevailing situation in Jammu and Kashmir and also slammed the central government for targeting state governments under “opposition parties”.

“Situation in Jammu and Kashmir is a very serious issue, it must be discussed in parliament and the government should be answerable,” Azad said.

Meanwhile, Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) leader Sitaram Yechury said the issue of the GST bill cannot be settled between the Congress and the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) alone.

“As far as the GST Bill is concerned, it’s not a matter to be settled bilaterally between BJP and Congress. I have been requesting the government since two years to call an all-party meet to discuss the GST bill and listen to our concerns to form consensus,” he said.

Keen on passing the GST bill, the government has been holding a series of meetings with opposition leaders, which included an interaction that Finance Minister Arun Jaitley had on Thursday with Azad and Deputy Leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha Anand Sharma.

This is also the first Parliament session since H.N. Ananth Kumar was appointed the new Parliamentary Affairs Minister. A veteran BJP leader, Ananth Kumar is known for his management skills and for sharing good relations with several opposition leaders.

Ananth Kumar also has a new Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs in S.S. Ahluwalia, who too is known for having a good equation with opposition leaders — especially in the Congress as he was himself in that party before shifting to the BJP.

–IANS

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