below the line

Our Bureaus | Updated on January 15, 2018 Published on March 19, 2017

Mallikarjun KhargeWon’t take it lying downSANDEEP SAXENA

GST: Peace prevails

Finance Minister Arun Jaitley is known for his behind-the-scenes strategising and consensus-building, the key difference between him and his predecessor as far as unanimity on GST is concerned. With the July 1 rollout of GST almost a certainty, council meetings now seem much more relaxed, and short, to the relief of officers and ministers. A pleasurable change from the stressful two-day meetings of the past!

Fiscal impact

The latest third batch of supplementary demand documents tabled in Parliament have been a disappointment. Reason: Like the earlier December edition, this one too was silent on whether the ₹11.35-lakh crore expenditure including net cash spend of about ₹15,000 crore in the latest case would affect the Centre’s fiscal position or not.

Is this another UPA practice that the current ruling dispensation does not want to continue? As for what happens to fiscal deficit, the private sector should certainly worry.

Out of his crease

Power Minister Piyush Goyal, who painstakingly listed the achievements of the Modi government on the power generation front in the past two-and-half years, made it a point to list out Congress ‘failures’ in almost every reply during Question Hour in the Lok Sabha last week, to much cheering by party members.

This provoked Congress leader Mallikarjun Kharge into asking him how many projects had been started by the Centre in this period. When Goyal started listing out Congress ‘failures’ again, and then talked about projects in the pipeline, such as Teesta and Subansiri, Kharge shot back: “Don’t give background, give figures.” Goyal was stumped.

Open challenge

No sooner were the Assembly elections results out than BSP chief Mayawati and AAP chief Arvind Kejriwal began alleging the EVMs had been tampered with. This has prompted the Election Commission to challenge all those making baseless allegations to come forward and prove the charge. A senior EC official said a similar challenge had been thrown in August 2009, and critics of the EVMs had failed to prove they were tamperable.

Hint, hint: it appears a techno-lobby is trying to get access to the product code. Really!

Missing in action?

The discussion on demand for grants under the agriculture ministry resumed in the Lok Sabha on Thursday with only about 25-odd Treasury members present, and the minister missing. Some BJP members putting up a spirited defence against the barrage of questions were visibly relieved to see Agriculture Minister Radha Mohan Singh hurriedly taking his seat.

Airbnb announcement?

Brian Chesky, co-founder and CEO of home-sharing services Airbnb valued at $31 billion is in town, to announce the launch of value-added services. Ministry sources say they have received a request for a meeting. But nothing’s confirmed.

Discordant note

A popular female playback singer was expected to perform at the annual employees’ day event of a leading Bengaluru-based company. The CEO was flying down for the event and the entire fee for the performance had been paid in advance to the singer. But in the end she never got to perform as she was replaced by a Punjabi rap singer at the eleventh hour. This time the decision was made by the CEO’s son but the playback singer got to keep her money as as it was the organisers who had cancelled the event. Still, that didn’t stop anyone from getting on the dance floor, moving to “lungi dance, lungi dance”!

Published on March 19, 2017

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