Consensus is not always necessary while taking decisions, said Arun Jaitley, Bharatiya Janata Party MP and leader of the Opposition in the Rajya Sabha, in an interaction at the 40th National Management Convention of the All India Management Association (AIMA) on Thursday.
Speaking in the context of economic decisions taken and not taken, Jaitley added: "Consensus is highly desirable and good for the economy but the onus for forging a consensus on policies lies with the government."
The two other participants in the discussion, held at New Delhi's Le Meridien hotel, were Sanjiv Goenka, Chairman of RP-Sanjiv Goenka Group and Gautam Thapar, Chairman, The Avantha Group.
During the hour-long session, Jaitley touched upon numerous issues including the Food Security Bill, the Representation of People's Act, the Goods and Services Tax (GST) and the proposed amendment to the Right to Information Act (RTI) that seeks to keep political parties out of the purview of the act.
Jaitley called the Food Security Bill "a repackaging of old food schemes" run by various state governments.
He said that it would not be a game changer and there will be no additional flow of funds for it. Indeed, he maintained, the new act would cover fewer people - 81 crore against 82 crore covered by existing schemes. "The quantum of food given per family will also come down," he said.
Jaitley said the delay in the implementation of GST was not an intra-party issue.
"It's an issue between the states and the Centre. It can be resolved but the Centre has failed to build confidence in states. Today, the states have strong aspirations. It is the role of the Centre to develop that confidence."
He recalled that the NDA government (1999 to 2004), in which he was a minister, had created three states - Uttarakhand, Jharkhand and Chhattisgarh - without having to face any agitation. "We got complete consensus. Compare it with creation of Telangana state which has led to confrontations," he added.
On the issue of RTI, Jaitley said that lawmakers did not want the RTI to apply to them. "Lawmakers are carving out such exceptions. Such a provision (as the pending amendment to the act) will never be accepted," he said.