Govt set for showdown in last-ditch attempt to salvage GST bill

With only a day left in the ongoing monsoon session of Parliament and the opposition Congress party bent on disrupting Parliamentary proceedings, the BJP-led NDA government is  making a last-ditch attempt to get the goods and services tax (GST) bill passed in the Rajya Sabha today.

Finance minister Arun Jaitley introduced the GST Bill in the Rajya Sabha yesterday amid strong protests by the Congress MPs.

The government's attempts to push through the GST Bill in the Rajya Sabha, however, was stalled by the Congress disrupting the House, prompting angry reaction from finance minister Arun Jaitley who targeted Sonia and Rahul Gandhi saying they were not able to digest election defeat (See: Congress becoming a liability to India's economy: Arun Jaitley).

A select committee of the Rajya Sabha had already cleared the bill and most state governments had accepted the amended bill but the NDA regime faces a tough challenge in getting the bill passed in Rajya Sabha, where it is in a minority.

The BJP has issued a whip to all its lawmakers to be present at Parliament today, as the monsoon session, which is headed for a complete washout, nears its end.

The Congress, on the other hand, has made it clear that it is not willing to relent unless its demands are met.

The principal opposition party has been disrupting the House business this monsoon session, demanding the resignation of foreign minister Sushma Swaraj and Rajasthan chief minister Vasundhara Raje for allegedly helping former IPL chief Lalit Modi get UK travel documents.

The Congress also wants the ouster of Madhya Pradesh chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan over the multi-crore Vyapam scandal.

Congress, whose members yesterday created ruckus and trooped near the Rajya Sabha chairman's podium, is likely to oppose the bill tooth and nail.

The BJP only has 48 seats in the 245-member Upper House. But, the Congress with passive support from other opposition parties has managed to stall all proceedings in Parliament so far this session.

Meanwhile, external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj today urged the Lok Sabha Speaker Sumitra Mahajan to accept the Congress adjournment motion after the latter rejected the same.

As Mahajan rejected the adjournment notice given by Malliarjun Kharge, Swaraj pleaded with the speaker to take up the motion in the form it was submitted.

She even said that Kharge should be allowed to initiate the debate and all the members who wished to speak on the issue be allowed.

Swaraj said, "Let only opposition members speak on the issue" but they should be present in the house when she replies to the debate.

However, Kharge now wants Prime Minister Narendra Modi to be present in the house and reply to the debate. He said that the opposition demanded PM's presence because he was only one who could take action in the matter.