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Sparks set to fly during Monsoon Session beginning today; Opposition to corner government on Arunachal, Kashmir, NSG membership

Reaching out to the Opposition, PM Modi on Sunday sought its cooperation in the passage of GST bill.


Sparks set to fly during Monsoon Session beginning today; Opposition to corner government on Arunachal, Kashmir, NSG membership
File Photo

New Delhi: Sparks are set to fly as Parliament meets for the Monsoon Session beginning Monday, with the Opposition seeking to corner the treasury benches on a host of issues, including India's failure to secure NSG membership, the Supreme Court verdict on the Arunachal Pradesh issue and the tension prevailing in Kashmir.

Also, BJP-led NDA government's decision to seek a report from the Law Commission on the proposal for introducing a Uniform Civil Code are likely make the session a tempestuous affair.

On the other hand, the government is hopeful of a breakthrough on the key GST bill, which it wants passed during the session, following a recent meeting between senior ministers and top Congress leaders.

On Friday, Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley and Information and Broadcasting Minister M Venkaiah Naidu had met Congress leaders Ghulam Nabi Azad and Anand Sharma to iron out differences on key clauses of the GST bill.

PM Modi reaches out to Opposition

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday reached out to the Opposition to seek its cooperation over the GST bill observing that the issue was not about which government would get the 'credit'.

He also urged all the political parties to keep national interest above all considerations and also welcomed suggestions for extending the sittings of parliament.

"Important bills, including the GST Bill, are to be taken up during the Monsoon Session beginning Monday and I hope that there would be meaningful discussions and outcomes during the session," PM Modi said at an all-party meeting convened by the government.

"We represent both the people and parties and there is a need to keep national interest above anything else," he added.

The contentious Constitution (122nd Amendment) Bill, 2014, known as the GST Bill was moved in the Upper House in August last year after being passed by Lok Sabha.

Will offer support to bills on merit, says Congress 

On its part, the Congress said that it will support in Parliament any legislation that is in the nation's interest but offered no assurance.

Congress leader Jyotiraditya 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," as per IANS

The three demands are one percent additional levy to be implemented by states, 18 percent 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.

He said the Congress would raise in Parliament issues like inflation, unemployment, interference of the central government in state affairs and incidents like Kairana.

Another Congress MP and Leader of the Opposition in the Rajya Sabha, Ghulam Nabi Azad, said there should be a discussion in Parliament on the tense situation in Kashmir and that government should provide an answer.

Azad accused the government of using every trick to de-stabilise states ruled run by other parties and referred to Arunachal developments and various CMs targeting the Centre at the Inter-State Council meeting yesterday.

Though he did not refer to GST directly, he said the Congress will offer support to bills on merit.

"We have not taken any decision that we have to stop a bill. We will support on merit. We will support any bill which is in support of people, progress and growth," he said, as per PTI.

As many as 45 leaders from 30 parties attended Sunday's meeting where Home Minister Rajnath Singh, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, and Ministers of State for Parliamentary Affairs Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi and SS Ahluwalia were also present.

Key bills pending in Parliament apart from GST

Besides the GST, another key legislation pending passage is the Whistle Blowers Protection (Amendment) Bill, 2015, which was moved in December last year but the discussion on it had remained inconclusive. In the Budget Session this year, this bill could not be taken up for debate.

In the Lok Sabha, important pending bills include the Consumer Protection Bill 2015 and the Benami Transactions (Prohibition) Amendment Bill, 2015.

The last few sessions of Parliament have seen frequent face-offs between the ruling and the Opposition benches but the second part of the Budget Session saw a relative improvement as far the completion of government business was concerned.

The session comes at a time when the ruling BJP's morale is high after its maiden victory in Assam Assembly polls and its performance in Kerala and West Bengal elections. 

(With Agency inputs)

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