Plan GST… high on Ananth Kumar’s agenda this session

RSTV Bureau

Parliament-of-IndiaThe newly sworn-in Parliamentary Affairs minister has cut-out a straight task for himself – GST Bill. With Monsoon session less than a fortnight away, Ananth Kumar is well aware of an uphill task. The Goods and Service Tax Bill, a crucial economic reform legislation, has been stuck in the Parliament even after its passage from Lok Sabha as Modi government is short of numbers in the Upper House.

Claiming that “whole country” is in favour of GST, Kumar is stressing that the passage of the GST Bill will be his priority.

“GST is a very important bill. The whole country is in favour of passing this bill as early as possible,” he said.

He also laid emphasis that the government will be reaching out to all the parties in order to drive their support. The principal opposition Congress party, which till the last session had a numerical advantage in Rajya Sabha, has been opposing the legislation seeking some changes.

“We will talk, discuss and request all political parties that this bill should be passed in this session (Monsoon), so that it can be implemented as early as possible,” he told reporters after assuming his new charge.

The recently held biennial polls for the Upper House saw Congress’ strength reducing but BJP is still short of it. Given the GST will be a constitutional amendment bill, it needs to be passed with 2/3rd majority. BJP’s hopes have largely banked on the non-Congress opposition bloc besides its own allies.

“There are bills which need to be passed in this session as they are of immense significance from the country’s economic point of view. Therefore, we will discuss and talk with all political parties for passing of those bills in this session,” Kumar said.

Good news for the BJP and Ananth Kumar, who took over Parliamentary Affairs ministry from Venkaiah Naidu on Tuesday, is that some of the Congress-backing Opposition parties too have dropped hints of supporting the GST.

Asked about Congress’ opposition to the GST Bill, Kumar said he and his deputies in the ministry, SS Ahluwalia and Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi, will work to fulfil the responsibilities given to them by Modi.

“Our aim will be to make the legislation smoother and faster so that it can expedite economic growth of the country and from which even people at the bottom of pyramid can get maximum benefit,” he said.

The Parliament session is going to start from July 18 and will go on till August 12.