Govt to talk to Cong, other parties on GST: Venkaiah

Last Updated 18 August 2015, 10:06 IST

The Centre would shortly hold discussions with Congress and other parties to bring them around to facilitate passage of the GST and some other key bills before the winter session of Parliament, Union Parliamentary Affairs Minister M Venkaiah Naidu said today.

Unfazed by the blockage of the GST Bill in the Rajya Sabha by Congress in the recently concluded Parliament session that ended on a bitter note over the Lalit Modi issue, Naidu said government was keen to implement "the revolutionary and most progressive" GST tax proposal from April 1, 2016.

"...we want to make it operational from April 1. So it is important to get the Bill passed at the earliest opportunity so that the state Assemblies can ratify the Bill. I am confident because the public opinion is strongly in favour of the Bill. State after state is asking for it," Naidu said.

He said, "now there is a broad consensus. All parties are supporting except the Congress for political reasons. I am sure the Opposition will see reason and they will cooperate and we will be able to pass the bill this year itself. Public opinion ultimately prevails."

As GST requires constitutional amendment, "...all parties must come together," Naidu told PTI here.

"Let us see what is going to happen. We are on a positive wicket. We tried our best. They failed the bill and failed the country," he said, hitting out at the Congress.

"We will be shortly talking to Congress and other parties also. I am already in touch with some other parties and see that the parliament, if necessary, meets before the winter session and then takes up bills which are required. All bills, more particularly GST. On Land Bill, we have to evolve consensus," he said.

Naidu dismissed suggestions that the Modi government was on the back-foot on reforms after the "soot boot ki sarkar" jibe at it by Congress Vice-President Rahul Gandhi, who has accused it of being pro-corporate.

"What is Rahul Gandhi. His party has 44 members. What he says is not going to influence our decision making," he said.

"Our government never sees corporates as enemies of the people or untouchables unlike Congressmen. They treat corporates as untouchables in day time and do business with them in night time or evening time," Naidu said.

"We are very clear that they (the corporate sector) are also partners in development. Ease of doing business is in the larger interest of country. Rahul Gandhi has nothing to do. He is not that much relevant," he said.

Naidu was responding to a question about the perception that the government was on the defensive after Rahul Gandhi's new aggression painting the Modi government as being corporate friendly.

"We are not giving any importance (to Rahul). Media has a weakness. He comes once in a way.... Any MP says something in Parliament, government responds. Otherwise, we don't. He wants to be in the news. So he always makes baseless allegations to attract some coverage in the media. We never go back on what we say," he said.

Naidu also defended BJP's campaign to "expose" Congress after the recent washout of the Parliament session and did not agree that it would aggravate tensions with its main rival.

"We are not going to physically attack anybody. We have to go and tell (people).... GST is blocked. Land bill is blocked. Real estate development bill is blocked. Country's growth is going to be affected," he said.

BJP had no animosity with Congress, he said, "We consider Cong as rival and not as enemy or Soniaji or anybody for that matter.....they (Congress) are calling PM names...lowering stature of Parliament. Who is behaving like this. Should we not convey it to the people. What is wrong with it?"

On "growing unease" in the corporate sector that the Modi government was not doing enough on ease of business, Naidu said they have to ask this question and express displeasure towards Congress and Communists who are blocking legislations.

"I don't have majority in the Rajya Sabha. How can anybody blame us. I can understand their restiveness. It will be unfair to criticise this government.....lot of initiatives have been taken....investment is going up and there is lot of interest on India. Red tapism is curtailed. There is no corruption," the minister added.

(Published 18 August 2015, 10:06 IST)

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