GST was thought up and conceived for the Indian economy by the NDA regime. The UPA was only working on the drafting on the legislation. The work was so lethargic that the bill was introduced in the LokSabha in 2011, a full seven years after the UPA assumed power. It was referred to the standing committee of finance by the speaker. The committee had submitted its report in mid-2013, but it was never brought to the Parliament in the monsoon and winter sessions of 2013. It goes to show that the UPA government was never serious about the passage of the bill.
The way the BJP government is pushing the reform bill is a sea change from the past. It is moving on all the fronts with all guns blazing. They are however facing resistance form the Congress opposition who are trying to stall the bill. The BJP just needs to approach the Congress at the highest level and directly. Any approach through the media is unwarranted. The BJP is in power and would do well to accommodate their reasonable demands. When the ruling government is enjoying the support of the masses, they can give up the rigidity on issues and dates.
The change in approach by BJP should work out in the country’s favour. The Congress party’s ego may be satisfied and they may agree to support the bill. It is already known that many of the top leaders in the Congress party are already in favour of the bill. It is only the question of the leadership relenting on the issue. The BJP has already indicated the intent of going ahead with this approach. It may happen when the Prime Minister personally greets the members of the opposition during the opening session of the Parliament.
But the ruling government cannot wait for the proceedings to turn in their favour. They have to be ready for the alternate if this approach does not materialize. The way out is to go ahead with the Central GST in the next budget. The basis for this alternate is the fact that Central VAT was also preceded by State VAT by many years. However, a different approach of encouraging the States to switch over from state VAT to state GST can be taken up simultaneously.
It is quite likely that by the mid of the next year we would have a more conducive political atmosphere. This could either happen by the change of mind by the Congress or by the BJP winning state elections and by increasing its strength in the RajyaSabha. This will set the stage for bringing together the Central and state GST under the umbrella of the all India GST. The transformation would be easy because by then most of the states would have updated their IT infrastructure; a large number of officers would have been trained for GST; the all-India portal of GST network for accepting all the four taxes under one challan would be ready.