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No clear headway on GST issue: Congress

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In indications of no clear headway on GST issue, Congress on Thursday dismissed as “all optics” Union Minister M Venkaiah Naidu’s meeting with party Chief Sonia Gandhi to seek her support for its passage and alleged that the “obduracy” of the BJP on the issue continues.

Party spokesperson Kapil Sibal also claimed that the BJP is not ready for any compromise with the Opposition party on the issue as RSS and Swadeshi Jagaran Manch have red-flagged the reform measure.

“What proposal? There is no proposal from the government side. If he had to accept our demands why would Finance Minister Arun Jaitley say that shrinking Congress strength in Rajya Sabha will make GST happen,” Sibal said when asked whether the government has accepted the demands of Congress and sent any proposal to Sonia Gandhi through Naidu on Thursday.

“This is all optics. Naidu came and met Sonia Gandhi. They have to show all this. Had there been anything substantial, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Finance Minister Jaitley would have gone on twitter now.”

“Had there been any formal assurance, the Prime Minister would have been first to speak. The Finance Minister would have gone and said everything on his blog and started tweeting,” Sibal said dismissing contentions that the government has offered to agree to the Congress’ demands.

A party functionary separately said that the government is resorting to these “optics to divert attention” from Pathankot attack.

With the logjam continuing over GST bill, Government today reached out to Congress again with the Parliamentary Affairs Minister calling on Sonia Gandhi seeking her support for its passage and expressing willingness to advance Parliament’s Budget Session in this regard.

This is the second major outreach of the government to the top Congress leadership on the GST bill after Prime Minister Narendra Modi had met Sonia and his predecessor Manmohan Singh over tea at his 7 RCR residence on November 27.

Replying to questions as why the Congress is putting hurdles in the GST, Sibal said that his party was not doing it but the related issues must be resolved first and reiterated the three demands of Congress including a constitutional cap on the GST rate, to support it.

“There is no deadlock from our side. Obduracy from the BJP continues. Otherwise why will the Finance Minister say shrinking Congress strength in Rajya Sabha will make GST happen. We are ready to talk. But they have to tell us what demands they are going to accept,” Sibal said.

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