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Congress lists red lines as government expects support on GST Bill

New Delhi: The Congress on Thursday listed three issues, calling them non-negotiable while extending any support to help the government to pass the Goods and Services Tax (GST) Bill, touted as the biggest reform measure since independence.


New Delhi: Congress President Sonia Gandhi with the party leader Mallikarjun Kharge in Lok Sabha during the first day of winter session of Parliament in New Delhi on Thursday. PTI

Congress president Sonia Gandhi and her son and vice-president Rahul Gandhi, who met reporters in Parliament House briefly, said there will be no compromise on the 1% tax for manufacturers, the constitutional cap of 18 per cent for GST rate and an independent dispute resolution mechanism. “Unless the government responds on this, we will not compromise,” they said.

The GST will create a single market in India after doing away with state levies and the move is expected to boost the economy.

Rahul also denied finance minister Arun Jaitley’s assertion that he had spoken to every Congress leader on GST. “The finance minister came and called on us separately to give us his daughter’s wedding invitation. It was a personal call,” he said.

Jaitley had earlier told TV channels that he had spoken to every Congress leader on GST in the last session. “Most of the parties are supporting the Bill. The numbers are with the Bill. I am optimistic about the Bill. I think it will get passed,” said Jaitley.

Jaitley also said that Prime Minister Narendra Modi is willing to speak to everyone to get the landmark indirect tax law through.

“We have absolutely no hesitation even at the level of Prime Minister, we have never had in it in the past, we don’t have it (now). He is willing to speak to everyone,” he said.

On Monday, minister of state for finance Jayant Sinha said the government was in discussion with opposition parties to reach a consensus on GST.

The ruling Bharatiya Janata Party has only 48 members in the 245-member Upper House (Rajya Sabha) and the total strength of NDA is 63. To get the constitutional amendment Bill passed, the government needs a two-thirds majority, or the support of at least 163 members in the Rajya Sabha.

The government has so far got an assurance from Trinamul Congress, Nationalist Congress Party and Bahujan Samaj Party, which adds its numbers to 91, still way off the mark.

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