Rajya Sabha logjam broken, GST bill not on agenda

New Delhi, Dec 18 (IANS) The Rajya Sabha logjam was finally broken on Friday and an all-party meeting called by Chairman M. Hamid Ansari decided to work regularly from Monday, but the Goods and Services Tax bill will not be taken up in the current session.

The meeting was called after protests over the Arunachal Pradesh assembly issue led to another day’s proceedings in the upper house being lost in din and disruptions.

Representatives of all parties present at the meeting agreed to passage of five bills, along with appropriation (financial) bill, but the GST bill was not part of the agreed agenda.

After the meeting that lasted for about an hour, Ansari dubbed it “good” while Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi called it “positive”.

“The meeting was positive,” Naqvi told reporters.

“A number of parties expressed concern over parliament’s non-functioning. All of them decided that the house should function. It has been decided to pass the pending government bills even by sitting till late hours,” he said.

“The Congress response on the GST Bill was, however, not favourable,” the minister said.

An agreement was reached on passing other bills and all parties agreed the house will sit till late and complete the work, he said.

“Legislation related to the poor and the Scheduled Castes and Tribes will be taken up for discussion and passing,” Naqvi added.

According to sources, the bills agreed upon include the SCs/STs (Prevention of Atrocities) Amendment bill, the appropriation bills, the Anti-Hijacking bill, the Atomic Energy Amendment bill, the Commercial Courts Ordinance bill and the Arbitration and Conciliation Amendment bill.

The upper house will also discuss the Child Labour (Prohibition and Regulation) Amendment bill, the Whistle-Blowers Protection Amendment bill and the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) bill, though these will not be passed in this winter session.

The house, meanwhile, witnessed ruckus once again on Friday, as the opposition Congress raised the Arunachal Pradesh assembly issue.

“In the history of independent India, neither the president nor any governor has called a (assembly) session without the government’s will. It is happening for the first time in India and the constitution is being violated,” Leader of Opposition in tghe Rajya Sabha Ghulam Nabi Azad said.

“Such a governor has no right to be there. He should be recalled,” he said, adding a notice to adjourn the proceedings of the upper house and discuss the issue has been given.

The ruckus that followed led to three adjournments through the day, after which the house met for taking up private member’s bills at 2.30 p.m.

However, soon after, Naqvi said there was no quorum in the house. At least 10 percent of the total number of members need to be present in the house at a given time to complete the quorum and take forward the proceedings.

Kurien then adjourned the house for the day.

The upper house is facing disruptions on several issues, blocking the passage of key legislation, including the GST bill.

The government is now looking to get the GST bill passed in the budget session next year, as highly placed sources said the numbers in support of the proposed legislation will increase in April after the biennial Rajya Sabha elections.

Only three business days are left in this winter session of parliament and the government is pushing hard to get passed some bills.

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