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GST, tax code bills face stiff opposition
July, 27th 2010

With the main Opposition BJP gearing up for a confrontation with the government on a range of issues in Parliament, UPA managers are apprehensive of a fallout in its attempt to forge consensus on its ambitious tax reforms bills Goods and Services Tax (GST) and Direct Tax Code (DTC). The two bills are likely to be introduced in the current monsoon session.

The two bills will require the support of two-thirds of both Houses to go thorugh Parliament. Besides, they need ratification by 15 assemblies. In Lok Sabha, the requirement works out to 362 of the 543 members. In the Rajya Sabha, the two-third threshhold translates into the support of 162 members.

The first sign that the BJP may not play along came last week when BJP's top leaders, protesting against CBI's move against Gujarat home minister Amit Shah, skipped a lunch hosted by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. Finance minister Pranab Mukherjee had recently admitted that it was not possible to pass the two bills without the support of the BJP.

To build a consensus, in the last two months, he had held zonal meetings with banking chiefs, clubbing them with one-on-one with all the chief ministers to create awareness on the importance of the proposed reforms and seek their support.

At the Centre, he already had a round of luncheon meeting with BJP top brass comprising former deputy PM L K Advani and leaders of Opposition in the two Houses, Sushma Swarj and Arun Jaitley.

However, the imbroglio over Amit Shah may be a calculated temporary move by the Congress, as some party insiders say, to break the Opposition ranks on price rise. The government has enough time at hand.

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