New Delhi: A picture is worth a thousand words. In this case, there are two: the score boards showing the consensus on the constitutional amendment bill to roll out the goods and services tax (GST) in the Rajya Sabha and the Lok Sabha.
संविधान (122वां संशोधन) विधेयक 2014, राज्यसभा द्वारा यथापारित, को धारा 368 के अनुसार लोक सभा ने दी मंजूरी pic.twitter.com/pLTAt0LWDi— LokSabha TV (@LokSabhaTV) August 8, 2016
On 3 August, the Rajya Sabha passed the landmark bill with the support of 203 members, while on 8 August, the Lok Sabha passed the bill with the amendments made to it in the Rajya Sabha, with 443 members voting for it. The central government led by the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) is in a minority in the 245-member Upper House.
On both days, the Rajya Sabha and Lok Sabha saw almost a full house.
A similar image was captured in the Rajya Sabha last week when the first amendment to GST was put to vote and senior cabinet ministers including Arun Jaitley, Dharmendra Pradhan, Nirmala Sitharaman, Manohar Parrikar and Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi were seen looking at the display screen for vote counts.
A brief moment of humour erupted in the Rajya Sabha over the numbers when the electronic voting system displayed “Ayes” in the range of 197 to 295 on different amendments. While deputy chairman P.J. Kurien maintained that the numbers were subject to correction, he added in jest that there was “magic” happening in the house.
GST, which is said to be the biggest tax reform in independent India, is aimed at dismantling inter-state barriers to trade in goods and services. It was first proposed in 2006 by then finance minister P. Chidambaram.
“We continue to work with all parties & states to introduce a system that benefits all Indians & promotes a vibrant & unified national market,” Prime Minister Narendra Modi said on Twitter after the bill was passed in the Rajya Sabha.
According to PRS Legislative Research, the approximately eight-hour-long discussion in the Upper House saw 35 members from various parties participate.
According to news agency PTI, after the passage of the bill by Lok Sabha, PM Modi walked up to the Opposition and shook hands with Congress leader Mallikarjun Kharge and former Prime Minister H.D. Deve Gowda. He also met members of other opposition parties, including the Trinamool Congress and Biju Janata Dal.