New Delhi: As the constitutional amendment bill to allow a goods and services tax (GST) enters the last mile, the political opposition has narrowed down to the Congress and the All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK).

While the AIADMK continues to stick to its opposition, cracks seem to be emerging within the Congress.

While nationally the Congress continues to insist on the Union government accepting its three conditions, including a cap on the GST rate in the constitution amendment bill, its finance ministers at the state level are thinking differently.

Addressing a meeting of the empowered group of state finance ministers in Kolkata on Tuesday, the Congress representatives did not oppose GST and, instead, focused on issues such as compensation to the states.

On the specific issue of placing a cap on the GST rate, they said, according to a person familiar with the developments, that it was “better not to have a cap".

With a little over a month left for the monsoon session of Parliament to start, the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) is going into an overdrive to generate consensus on the crucial constitutional amendment bill.

The monsoon session is expected to begin in July.

Even though senior Union ministers, led by prime minister Narendra Modi, reached out to Tamil Nadu chief minister J. Jayalalithaa seeking the AIADMK’s support for the bill in Parliament, the government has so far not reached out to the Congress party to try and reach a consensus on the bill.

“If GST got stalled in our time, it is because the ruling BJP is responsible. We are not taking the kind of stand that they (BJP) took about being opposed to the very concept of GST. We are not against GST. We are its architect, we made the Bill. The BJP wants to dilute it and we are asking for amendments," Ghulam Nabi Azad, leader of the opposition in Rajya Sabha, told reporters on Tuesday.

Saying it was premature to discuss his party’s stand on GST, Azad said, “Our (Congress) and other opposition parties’ demands should be considered and taken on board and then GST can be passed in two minutes. We don’t want to make this a big issue because nearly 1-1.5 months are still left for the session."

Interestingly, in her first meeting with Modi after the Tamil Nadu assembly polls, Jayalalithaa on Tuesday submitted a 29-point memorandum.

“Centre should accept the AIADMK’s amendments to GST Bill, Amma (J. Jayalalithaa) in the memorandum to PM Modi," the AIADMK tweeted after the two leaders met in Delhi.

Jayalalithaa also met Union ministers Pon Radhakrishnan and Nirmala Sitharaman.

Hopes for a swift passage of GST revived on Tuesday after Union finance minister Arun Jaitley said in Kolkata, at the conclusion of the meeting of the empowered committee of state finance ministers, that “virtually every state has supported the idea of GST" apart from Tamil Nadu, which has certain reservations.

The biggest problem for the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-led NDA is that the alliance is in a minority in the upper House with only 74 members of Parliament (MPs) out of 245, whereas it needs the support of at least 163 MPs.

Congress alliance partners Janata Dal (United) and Rashtriya Janata Dal together have 12 MPs in the upper House and are agreeable to the GST bill.

But they want the government to first get the support of the Congress.

The Samajwadi Party with 19 MPs and the Bahujan Samaj Party with six MPs are both supporting the government on the GST.

The Left parties, too, support the GST, but want to move amendments on the crucial legislation.

“Jayalalithaa will be a very difficult political leader to convince, specially given that she has very strong opinion about how it will affect Tamil Nadu’s revenues. The Congress will be equally difficult because of the kind of politics that happens outside with the BJP. Other political parties also will demand their pound of flesh in return for their support. All in all, we will have to wait and watch how the other political parties come on board,’’ said Abhay Kumar Dubey, a New Delhi-based political analyst associated with the Center of Developing Societies, or CDS.

PTI contributed to this story.

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