PM rues GST could not be passed as Rajya Sabha members retire (Roundup)

New Delhi, May 13 (IANS) Bidding farewell to retiring members from the Rajya Sabha, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday rued the fact that the bill to implement Goods and Services Tax (GST) could not be passed in the upper house.

The prime minister said it would have been good if the bill had been passed during the tenure of members who were retiring.

The ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has been waiting for the numbers in the upper house to turn in its favour. Though the upper house is to elect 57 members in June, the gain for the ruling party may not be big enough to secure majority in the upper house, say sources.

The prime minister, in his message to retiring members on Friday, said: “It would have been good if two things were taken up while you were here — one is GST bill.”

Modi added that the second was to unlock Compensatory Afforestation Fund Management and Planning Authority (CAMPA) funds, which could not be passed in Rajya Sabha on Wednesday evening.

“Bihar and Uttar Pradesh would have benefited immensely from GST… Barring a few states, all states would have benefited,” said Modi.

“Those who come back I am sure will get this chance, and an important deed for benefit of your state will take place through your hands,” Modi added.

The BJP has been facing a difficult time in the upper house with bills including the GST being stuck due to lack of numbers.

Congress leader Anand Sharma responded saying that the GST bill had remained stuck during the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) tenure as well.

“When we were on that side, GST was stalled for years. We feel an atmosphere should be created so that the bitterness that has become a part of political discourse can be removed,” he said.

Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) leader Mayawati said that the government should also consider the good suggestions that may come from the opposition.

Talking to journalists later, Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi said the government hopes to get the GST bill passed in the monsoon session.

Even as the BJP is to gain from the coming Rajya Sabha elections, the Congress will continue to remain in majority seeing its status in state assemblies, said sources.

A total of 53 members are retiring from the Rajya Sabha in June and July. Two members – Suresh Prabhu and Birender Singh – will retire in August.

In addition, one seat in Rajasthan has been vacated by Congress leader Anand Sharma who is now an MP in the house from Himachal Pradesh, and another from Karnataka after Vijay Mallya’s resignation.

Election for the 57 seats will be held on June 11, election commission has said.

Of the total 57 seats, a majority of 14 each belong to the BJP and Congress.

While six members belong to the BSP, five are from Janata Dal-United, three each from Samajwadi Party, Biju Janata Dal and the AIADMK.

Two members each belong to DMK, Nationalist Congress Party and the Telugu Desam Party, while one member belongs to Shiv Sena.

Retiring members from BJP include union ministers M. Venkaiah Naidu, Nirmala Sitharaman, Piyush Goyal, and Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi.

In 2016, a total of 21 Congress MPs in the upper house will retire.

The BJP however will see only 12 MPs retiring this year.

The Rajya Sabha elections are based on the principle of ‘proportional representation’ of parties and the members are elected by members of state assemblies.

–IANS

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