With Opposition protests over demonetising blocking proceedings in Parliament, the government was hopeful of developing a consensus to get three key goods and services tax (GST) Bills passed in the winter session.
But inside the House and outside on the streets, a united Opposition escalated the protests over the decision of the government to demonetise the old series Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 currency notes, marking Monday as Jan Akrosh Divas.
The decision was announced by Prime Minister Narendra Modi
on November 8.
Inside Parliament, the government’s offer that Modi would reply to a debate on demonetisation
failed to placate the Opposition.
Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh on Monday said the PM would intervene if a debate took place, but the Leader of the Opposition in the Rajya Sabha, Ghulam Nabi Azad, said the House would be disrupted till Modi apologised.
The government responded by claiming the people were supporting the withdrawal of high-denomination currency. Home Minister Singh said the demonetisation
was “historic, bold and pro-poor”.
Congress leader Mallikarjun Kharge countered him, saying the move had hurt the economy and the people. “It has left over 70 people dead because of faulty implementation,” he said.
With little progress in Parliament, all eyes were now on the meeting of the GST
Council on December 2 and 3. Sources said if issues between the states and the Centre were not ironed out on the first day, chances of the Bills clearing the House hurdle in the winter session
would be over.
Earlier, the government had planned to introduce the Bills as money bills, which would not need the nod of the Rajya Sabha, where the Opposition has the numerical upper hand. However, now, the government is looking to develop consensus over this, said sources.
The countrywide strike called by some Opposition parties evoked a mixed response. While there was complete bandh in Left-ruled Kerala and Tripura, there was poor response in West Bengal, where ruling Trinamool Congress staged its own protest. In Tamil Nadu many Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) workers, including leader M K Stalin, was arrested.
In Maharashtra and Karnataka Congress led the protests, though business and life remained unaffected in Bengaluru and Mumbai.