New Delhi(dna): Even as the Congress keeps the government on tenterhooks on the Goods and Services Tax (GST) Bill in Rajya Sabha till the last minute, floor managers on the ruling side are exploring strategies to push its other pro-reform agenda– land acquisition and black money bills.
The Congress will wait and watch what stand will be taken at the two-day meeting of Empowered Committee of State Finance Ministers which began in Kerala on Thursday. It was decided at Wednesday’s dinner for party MPs hosted by Sonia Gandhi that the Congress toe the line taken at the meeting of state finance ministers and officials convened by Kerala finance minister KM Mani, the chairman of the panel.
The Constitution (122nd Amendment) Bill, which was passed in Lok Sabha amidst a walkout by the Congress, is likely to be taken up in the Upper House on Monday. While the government got comfortable support for the bill in Lok Sabha, the Congress has 68 MPs against BJP’s 47 in the 245-member Upper House. The AIADMK, which opposed the bill, has 11 members in Rajya Sabha.
However, if the government does not have the numbers for passage of the bill, which requires a two-third majority and at least 50 per cent of members to be present, it may be forced to refer it to a Select Committee, delaying further the pro-reform GST.
Running out of time to complete its unfinished legislative agenda, the government has extended Lok Sabha by three days. Among the eight bills on the agenda for the extended session, the contentious land bill is on the top of the government’s agenda. Sources said the bill will be taken up after other pending legislations. In a bid to avert the Opposition strategy of referring the land acquisition bill to the Select Committee, the government is mulling on sending it to a Joint Committee of both Houses.
Even as uncertainty clouds the fate of the land acquisition and GST bills in Rajya Sabha, the government is confident of passage of the black money bill, providing for stern penalty and punishment of up to 10 years for stashing unaccounted wealth abroad. Sources said that with the Speaker declaring the Undisclosed Foreign Income and Assets (Imposition of Tax) bill as a money bill, once it is passed by Lok Sabha, the Rajya Sabha has to act on it within 14 days or it will be deemed as having been passed. If the Upper House makes changes or rejects a money bill, the Lok Sabha has the power to accept or reject the recommendations.
Other bills listed
Among the other bills listed for the extended session are the Appropriation Acts Repealing Bill, Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises Development Bill, National waterways Bill, Compensatory Afforestation Fund Bill, Whistle Blowers Protection Bill and Negotiable Instruments Bill.
Among the eight bills on the agenda for the extended session, the contentious land bill is on the top of the government’s agenda. Sources said the bill will be taken up after other pending legislations.