New Delhi : The BJP-led NDA government’s efforts to get the Insurance Law (Amendment) Bill through Parliament next week could face a Congress-led hurdle in the Rajya Sabha. The Bill seeks to hike the ceiling on Foreign Direct Investment in insurance sector to 49 percent from the current level of 26 percent.
In the Lok Sabha, there would be no difficulty as the BJP has a majority on its own, but in the Rajya Sabha it is in a minority and nine opposition parties have given it in writing to the chairman that the Bill should be referred to a select committee.
The BJP has been claiming that this approach shows the double standards of the Congress. ”When in power they wanted this proposal to go through,” said a NDA minister.
However, the Congress has retaliated by arguing that double standards, if any, have been practiced by the BJP. ‘‘Our finance minister pleaded with them with folded hands to allow the legislation. But their former finance and external minister Yashwant Sinha, as the chairman of the standing committee, struck down the same provision of raising the FDI limit from 26 to 49 percent. We, of course, remain committed to the 49 percent principle, but that does not mean that we shall allow a 60 page bill without reading it,” said party spokesperson Abhishek Manu Singhvi.
He said that as the standing committee option has been already exhausted, the party now wants the bill to go to a select committee for a thorough examination.
‘‘One of the provisions to which we are opposed is the extension of the same 49 percent limit to FIIs, which is hot money and we are opposed to such investments in the insurance sector,” he added.
The Congress stressed that unlike the BJP, which has two faces — in power and out of power — it is consistent in its approach on issues. “But then we cannot be taken for granted,” added Singhvi.
But political observers pointed out that the BJP could still work on the non-Congress parties and get the required support in the Rajya Sabha. They have done it in the past, and over the weekend they could muster support for a legislation that is expected to boost the investment climate.