Government hopes of seeing GST Bill through dashed to the ground

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Parliament

Congress leaders held Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s hopes of passing the crucial GST Bill hostage , as they accused his government of using the courts to run a “vendetta” against the Nehru-Gandhi family.

The government wants to introduce the Goods and Service Tax to revive its stalled reform programme. The tax would replace a list of state levies, raising hopes of boosting investment by making it easier to do business in India’s internal market.

Despite having a majority in the Lok Sabha, Modi needs the opposition’s support to get the bill through the Upper House. Hopes were raised the long-delayed legislation would see the light of day this year after Modi met Congress president Sonia Gandhi last month.

But the compromise was cast in doubt, when a court ruled that Sonia and her son Rahul should appear in court in the National Herald case.

Furious Congress members stormed the wells of both Houses of Parliament shouting slogans to protest the case and alleging a “political vendetta” by Modi.

“The GST Bill has gone for a sky walk,” said Anand Sharma, while speaking to the Reuters. His sentiments were echoed by two other party leaders.

Congress spokesperson and lawyer Abhishek Manu Singhvi said the Gandhis were willing to appear at court, but sought more time for that. He said the case was an example of a “political vendetta at its worst”.

“The ruling party is using proxy litigation to attack senior Congress leaders out of pure political malice,” Singhvi said outside a New Delhi court that decided the hearing would be held on December 19.

Babul Supriyo, a government minister, denied a vendetta, saying the Gandhis could approach court to address their grievances.

“Parliament needs to pass an important bill like the GST. Instead of disrupting the house, the Congress should cooperate,” said Supriyo.