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Government may make fresh attempts to pass GST bill after April 2016
December, 18th 2015

With the Congress cold shouldering parliamentary affairs minister M Venkaiah Naidu's late evening call on Tuesday to meet afresh for talks on the GST bill, the government appeared reconciled to miss the April 1 deadline to roll out the ambitious tax reforms.

"GST is an idea which I have no doubt, if not today, tomorrow has to be approved. We are just going through the agony prior to the passage of the bill," Jaitley told an industry function in the Capital on Wednesday.

Even Congress leaders suggested the April 1 deadline was not going to be met. "Venkaiah Naidu did call up Mallikarjun Kharge and Anand Sharma late yesterday evening for scheduling another meeting. They told that we will get back, " a top Congress leader confided on Wednesday adding, "anyway, the government is not ready with the GST bill that should follow the Constitution amendment. So, April 1, 2016, deadline is out of question."

Congress has not yet got back to the government on its next meeting after Naidu's call on Tuesday. The principle opposition party on Monday had avoided discussing the GST bill with Naidu and finance minister Arun Jaitley on the excuse of unavailability of Congress Lok Sabha leader Mallikarjun Kharge.

Top government sources indicated that the government may make fresh attempts to pass the GST bill in the second half of the budget session early next year. The ruling party hopes that it will be in better position to muster numbers after April, when retirement of about a dozen members in the Rajya Sabha would weaken Congress' ability to hold up the Constitution amendment bill, which requires two-thirds majority for passage in the House.

Congress is likely to lose 12 Rajya Sabha members after April, while BJP would gain about 12. Though the tally of AIADMK, which is opposed to GST, will go up in the Rajya Sabha after April, the government hopes to get some nominated members to its kitty to more than compensate for that," confided a top government source underlining how the decline in Congress tally in the Rajya Sabha may help the BJP to pursue the GST bill more effectively in the second half of Budget session. "Currently, the numbers of those in favour of GST stands at around 160, this may go up to 180-190 by April next year that will take out the Congress' veto power," confided the government source.

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