The government hopes to pass the Constitution amendment Bill on a national goods and services tax (GST) in the Rajya Sabha in the latter half of the Budget session, and then get the requisite half of the 29 states to ratify the Bill.
The plan, if it works out, could facilitate the rolling out of the GST regime by October 1.
In the Rajya Sabha, all parties barring the Congress (67 MPs) and All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK) (12 MPs), support the Bill.
The government believes that with the exception of Sachin Tendulkar and Rekha, the other members nominated by the President during the United Progressive Alliance regime might vote with the Congress. (STATUS IN THE HOUSE)
A Constitution amendment Bill needs to be passed by a two-thirds majority. The current strength of the Rajya Sabha is 242, with three vacancies.
The Bill, if all members were to vote, will need 162 votes in support. But, the government currently has confirmed support of only 155 members.
The numbers in the RS will change by April to give a wafer-thin two-thirds majority to political parties that support the GST, enabling the passage of the Bill even if the Congress and AIADMK were to oppose it. Five nominated MPs will retire. There are also two vacancies among nominated MPs to be filled. This takes the tally of MPs the President will nominate - upon the current government's recommendation - to seven. These members are likely to vote for the Bill. Apart from the nominated MPs, 12 elected MPs will also end their terms by April 2016. There is also a vacancy to be filled from Nagaland. The state currently has a Nagaland People's Front government, an ally of the National Democratic Alliance.
Of the 12 elected MPs set to retire by April, five are from the Congress, three from the Communist Party of India (Marxist), two each of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and Shiromani Akali Dal. Of the 13, three are from Kerala and two from Assam.
The two states are to go for Assembly polls by April and the new Assembly will elect the members. There are also five seats from Punjab and Shiromani Akali Dal /BJP could gain a seat from the Congress there.
Government strategists forecast that after these 20 are elected or nominated, those in support of the GST will be in majority. It is also confident that the AIADMK could be persuaded to stage a walkout at the time of voting.
However, this thin advantage could be useless if the Congress, instead of voting on the Bill or staging a walkout, chooses to protest inside the House.Passage of a Constitution amendment Bill requires the House to be in 'order'. Rajya Sabha chairman M Hamid Ansari is a stickler for the rules and does not favour passing of Bills in a din.