PM Modi may make fresh bid to end impasse in House

NEW DELHI,NISTULA HEBBAR: Prime Minister Narendra Modi is likely to make another attempt to break the parliamentary logjam his government is faced with after January 29, but this time around it would be for Bills other than the Goods and Services Tax (GST) Bill.

This year is said to be crucial for the Modi government as it will reach the halfway mark of its tenure. The attempt now is to get a lot of its legislative agenda off the ground, without getting mired in the political battle of nerves, that is the GST.

According to top government sources, the last three days of the Rajya Sabha and the consensus over allowing at least some Bills to be cleared there, has inspired this move. “There are Bills that are pending for the last two sessions that do not require a Constitutional amendment like the GST. These can be passed and the PM wants this budget session be maximised for that,” said an official.

In the last week of the winter session, an all-party meeting of the Rajya Sabha convened by Vice-President Hamid Ansari agreed to clear at least some Bills like the arbitration Bill and the award of bonuses to industrial workers.

Mr. Modi will be in Assam on January 19, and will be visiting his Lok Sabha constituency of Varanasi thereafter. The Republic Day engagements will also occupy much of his time thereafter.

Asked why there seemed to be no outreach to Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi on the GST, as he appears to be in-charge of the Congress’ parliamentary strategy, sources on both sides admitted that bridges between the Prime Minister and Mr. Gandhi were still to be built.

“An outreach by the Prime Minister to Rahul Gandhi can only be attempted if there is assurance that it will be treated with the dignity it merits. As of now, nobody in the Congress has any authority to guarantee that,” said one of the floor managers of the government. Mr. Modi had, at the beginning of the winter session hosted Congress president Sonia Gandhi and the former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh for tea to discuss the GST, a meeting midwifed by Dr. Singh at Prime Minister Modi’s request.

Fuelling this speculation was an early morning visit by Parliamentary Affairs Minister M. Venkaiah Naidu to the residence of Speaker Sumitra Mahajan. While ostensibly to invite Ms. Mahajan to Makar Sankranti celebrations at his residence, Mr. Naidu did discuss the prospects of bringing forward the budget session of parliament, but admitted that chances were bleak.

“I suggested earlier that if the Congress is to support the GST, we can think of advancing (sic) the budget session,” Mr. Naidu said.