Cong plans to strike big bargain in GST Council

Cong plans to strike big bargain in GST Council

After a handsome win in three Hindi heartland states, the Congress is all set to strike a bigger deal in the GST Council and take some credit for major pro-trader announcements ahead of the general elections in 2019.

Sources privy to the development said, the party has also sought a deputy chairman post in the Council, which is lying vacant ever since the GST Council was set up in 2017.

The post may go to Madhya Pradesh with Chief Minister Kamal Nath — who represents the largest state among those that went to elections in November-December — appearing confident of striking a deal in his favour.

Tarun Bhanot, the new finance minister of Madhya Pradesh, is expected to represent the state in the GST Council meetings. After the poll victories in the three states, the Congress now has six members in the council.

Sources in the GST Council said that Finance Minister Arun Jaitley has agreed to the proposal of giving away the deputy chairman post to the Congress, and is also planning a discussion with Congress president Rahul Gandhi on the issue.

Jaitley, who has often boasted that almost all decisions in the GST Council have so far been taken through a consensus, may meet top Congress leaders ahead of the next meeting in January in order to strike a chord.

Jaitley is expected to face major opposition on the issue of compensation to states with Congress preparing to put pressure on the Council for a compensation for 10 years instead of the current five years.

Karnataka Chief Minister H D Kumaraswamy has already written to Jaitley for increasing state's compensation to five years instead of three.

Sources said that the Council is expected to come up with major announcements of further rate cuts on goods, including that of gold and cement in an attempt to win over the trading community, which has made its anguish evident in the Assembly elections of Madhya Pradesh, Chattisgarh and Rajasthan.

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