On eve of Parliament session, PM reaches out to opposition

On eve of Parliament session, PM reaches out to opposition

On eve of Parliament session, PM reaches out to opposition
Reaching out to the opposition, Prime Minister Narendra Modi today sought its cooperation in the passage of GST bill even as it asserted that government will be targeted over developments in Arunachal Pradesh and Kashmir during Parliament's Monsoon Session starting tomorrow.

As sparks are set to fly in Parliament over a range of issues, Modi also urged all the political parties to keep national interests above any other considerations. "We represent both the people and parties and there is a need to keep national interests above anything else".

At an all-party meeting convened by the government a day before Parliament meets, Congress said it will support bills but based on merit but offered no assurance on the GST, saying it can take a stand only after the government gives it a "written draft" over concerns raised by it.

Noting that important Bills including the GST will be taken up during the session, Modi expressed the hope that there would be meaningful discussions and outcomes.

"The issue is not about which government would get the credit for introduction of GST but what was important is the passage of the Bill," he said.

With the continuing protests in Kashmir following the killing of Hizbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Wani expected to generate heat in Parliament, Modi commended political parties for speaking in "one voice" over the issue.

"Various parties have given statements on Kashmir events which benefitted the country.

This has sent a right message and I thank all the parties for the same," he said.

The Leader of the Opposition in the Rajya Sabha Ghulam Nabi Azad said there should be a discussion in Parliament on the tense situation in Kashmir and that Government should provide an anwser.

The government's unsuccessful NSG bid, floods in some states, agrarian crisis and terrorism were among the other main issues raised by opposition leaders at the meeting.

Azad accused the government of using every trick to destabilise states ruled run by other parties and referred to Arunachal developments and various chief ministers targeting the Centre at the Inetr-State Council meeting yesterday.

Though he did not refer to GST directly, he said the Congress will offer support to bills on merit.

"We have not taken any decision that we have to stop a bill. We will support on merit.

We will support any bill which is in support of people, progress and growth," he said.

Another Congress leader Jyotiraditya Scindia said his party can take a stand only after it receives a written response from the government as he played down talks between its leaders and union ministers over the GST.

Parliamentary Affairs Minister Ananth Kumar said the government will talk to all parties to evolve a consensus on the GST.

"Our legislative business, including GST, is a priority. We want to see to that we pass the GST bill with consensus. We are going to take every party on board," he said.

Kumar downplayed the attacks of Congress, the Left and some other parties on the government over the Arunachal issue, saying all issues can be debated in Parliament.

"The meeting was very fruitful. Congress has offered support based on merit of the bills. We have assured all parties that there will be open-mindedness and we are ready to discuss all issues," he said.

Growing incidents of terror attacks in different parts of the world and their implications for the country, foreign policy, floods in states like Madhya Pradesh and Uttarakhand were listed by Kumar among the issues to be discussed in Parliament.

The government's legislative agenda includes taking up 16 bills, including three to replace ordinances.

CPI(M) General Secretary Sitaram Yechury and Naresh Agrawal of Samajwadi Party warned against "match-fixing" between the ruling BJP and main opposition Congress and asked it to speak to all parties.

Some opposition leaders also asked Modi for increasing the sittings of Parliament. Modi "welcomed" the suggestion but urged them to ensure proper utilisation of the available time, official sources said.

With the opposition set to raise the issue of India's failure to get a berth in the Nuclear Suppliers' Group, the government has said External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj was ready for discussion on issues including Prime Minister's recent foreign tours.

Besides the GST, another key legislation pending passage is the Whistle Blowers Protection (Amendment) Bill, 2015, which was moved in December last year but the discussion on it had remained inconclusive. In the Budget Session this year, this bill could not be taken up for debate.

In the Lok Sabha, important pending bills include the Consumer Protection Bill 2015 and the Benami Transactions (Prohibition) Amendment Bill, 2015.

The last few sessions of Parliament have seen frequent face-offs between the ruling and the opposition benches but the second part of the Budget Session saw a relative improvement as far as the completion of government business was concerned.