GST bill: Nitish Kumar goes goodwill hunting
Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar is trying to mend ties with the Modi government as he uses good economics as the central theme for good politics
Using the values of good economics to determine the politics and relations with the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) at the centre, chief minister Nitish Kumar-led Bihar became the first non-NDA state on Tuesday to ratify the constitutional amendment bill to roll out goods and service tax (GST).
Kumar, who has had turbulent relations with the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) for almost three years, is now showing signs of having workable relations with the NDA government at centre.
After Parliament passed the GST bill, Kumar was the first chief minister who spoke to Union finance minister Arun Jaitley and offered to call a special sitting of the Bihar assembly to ratify the GST bill.
The move to mend ties with the NDA is interesting because Kumar is using good economics as the central theme for good politics.
The three-time chief minister, who enjoys the image of a vikas purush or development man in Bihar, wants to strengthen his credentials by pushing for greater economic reforms in the state.
“The chief minister is well aware that he needs two things right now. One is that GST succeeds in a consuming state like Bihar and, second, that there are professional working relations with the centre because Union funds are key for the economic progress of a state like Bihar,” a senior party leader from Janata Dal (United), or JD(U), said, requesting anonymity.
Realizing the need to pass the GST bill, Kumar was also among the first chief ministers of non-Congress and non-NDA background to break ranks with the opposition and support the GST bill in the Rajya Sabha.
The move not only provided the much needed cushion to NDA leaders who were negotiating with the Congress party, but also led to the further isolation of the Congress, which was leading the charge in negotiations with the government.
“I am not sure if this points out to any bonhomie between Nitish and BJP but surely one can say that he has set an example for other non-BJP chief ministers to take a proactive approach and ratify GST, specially after it was supported by all political parties in Parliament,” said A.K. Verma, a Kanpur-based political analyst and political science professor at Christ Church College.
The 122nd Constitution amendment bill received Parliament’s nod in the monsoon session and has subsequently been sent to the states for their consent.
The NDA needs the bill to be ratified by 16 states by the first week of September in order to meet its 1 April 2017 implementation deadline.
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