Oppn gangs up to stall Insurance Bill in House

Oppn gangs up to stall Insurance Bill in House

Nine opposition parties have come together to stall the introduction of the Insurance Bill in Parliament, the NDA government’s first initiative to revive the nation’s sluggish economy, that makes way for a hike in the Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) cap.

The Congress, Left, TMC, BSP, SP, DMK, JD (U) and the RJD signed a letter asking Rajya Sabha Chairman Hamid Ansari to refer the Insurance Laws (Amendment) Bill to a parliamentary panel.

They contended that the Bill, which seeks to raise the FDI cap from 26 to 49 per cent, has several implications and should  not be pushed through with haste.

The AIADMK, too, is understood to have supported the joint opposition in referring the Bill to the select panel, though BJP leaders counter-argued that having a debate outside both the Houses was unnecessary since the standing committee on finance had already taken up the subject.

The BJD is yet to reveal its stance on the issue.

Committed to tabling the legislation on Monday, the NDA government was hoping to avoid stumbling blocks that would further drag down the falling economy and leave the Centre with no important business to fill the remainder of the Budget Session scheduled to end on August 14.

The BJP has cracked its whip by asking all its MPs to be present on Monday.
Saffron leaders are now trying to persuade the opposition to shed their reservations and discuss the Bill in detail, or else call a joint session to pass the legislation.

Notably, the NDA strength, owing to its formidable presence in the Lok Sabha, outnumbers that of the Opposition in both Houses of Parliament. During the Atal Bihari Vajpayee regime, the NDA had used its advantage of numbers to pass the Prevention of Terrorism Act (PoTA) in Parliament. However, it was subsequently scrapped by the succeeding Congress-led government.

Clarifying that the Congress was not opposing the Bill, party spokesperson Abhishek Manu Singhvi told reporters that the select committee was the only way to validate a 60-page legislation that proposes several changes. The Finance Ministry has proposed about a dozen amendments to the Insurance Bill.

Opposition parties are contemplating moving a motion in the Upper House, as soon as the Bill is tabled on Monday, and request the Chair to refer it to the select committee.

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