The Congress on Thursday signalled that the long-pending Goods and Services Tax Bill could be considered at the Rajya Sabha next week after the government reached out to the party exclusively. Party Vice President Rahul Gandhi told the Times of India that some progress has been made in negotiations and that "an outcome was possible".
The Congress has provided the strongest opposition to the Bill. Among one of its demands was that the GST rate be fixed at 18%. Hence, Jaitley asked Chief Economic Advisor Arvind Subramanian to clarify any doubts of the party leaders. After the meeting, a Congress leader said the discussions were “intense” and added that they hope to reach a consensus by next week, reported The Indian Express.
Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitely later met the Samajwadi Party, Biju Janata Dal, Trinamool Congress, Communist Party of India and Communist Party of India (Marxist) and apprised them of the amendments made to the Constitutional Amendment Bill by the Cabinet and the discussion he had with the Congress.
However, some of these parties have raised different issues and are not happy with the government’s special treatment of Congress. Leaders of CPM, CPI, SP and TMC said they were merely informed about the government’s negotiations with the Congress. CPM general secretary Sitaram Yechury said the Bharatiya Janata Party and the Congress were “doing their deal” and the “rest of us are immaterial in terms of numbers”.