Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley on Wednesday met Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi to invite him to his daughter’s wedding.
However, the meeting also gave birth to speculation that the former reached out to the Congress leader eyeing the opposition’s support for the much-delayed Goods and Services Tax (GST) Bill.
Jaitley drove down to Rahul’s 12, Tughlak Lane residence on Wednesday morning, just a week ahead of the Winter Session of Parliament, to invite Rahul for the wedding of his daughter Sonali scheduled next month.
The GST Bill was passed by the Lok Sabha, where the NDA government enjoys majority but the efforts of economic reforms have got stuck in the Rajya Sabha after the Congress and other opposition parties said their concerns were not addressed adequately in the draft legislation. The NDA doesn’t have the required numbers in the Upper House.
Being a Constitution Amendment Bill, the GST requires support of two-thirds of the members present and voting in the Rajya Sabha. The NDA needs to get the largest party—the Congress with 67 members—on board if it expects to pass the GST Bill. Other opponents of the GST Bill are AIADMK and Left parties, who together have 22 members in the House of 245.
After flexing its muscles in Parliament, the top Congress leadership has indicated that it is open for compromise on the GST but wanted the Modi government to “meaningfully engage” the opposition on legislative measures.
The change in the Congress’s stand is learnt to have happened after some gentle prodding from President Pranab Mukherjee during his discussion with Congress president Sonia Gandhi. Mukherjee is understood to have underlined the national importance of the GST Bill which was first moved during his term as the finance minister.
The industry has also been prodding the government and the opposition reach a consensus on urgent economic reforms. Besides, Sonia too is keen that her son Rahul, who is expected to become the president of the Congress soon, is being talked to by the government on important matters.