NDA seeks Cong support through Manmohan Singh

Jaitley to speak to former PM on Insurance Bill

NDA seeks Cong support through Manmohan Singh

The NDA government has been working behind the scenes to soften the Opposition’s stance on the Insurance Bill, with its latest move to appease the Congress likely to be through former prime minister Manmohan Singh.

The Centre, through the former prime minister, is hoping to bring on board reluctant Congress members, who are insisting that the legislation be sent to a parliamentary select committee.

It is also likely to convene a second all-party meeting on Wednesday to thrash out the differences on the Insurance bill, which seeks to create windfall in the insurance sector with a hike in the 26 percent cap to 49 percent.

The BJP had got more anxious after two parties, including friendly party AIADMK, came in support of the Congress’s demand to send the legislation to a select committee.

On August 1, leaders of nine parties – from the Congress, CPM, CPI, TMC, JDU, BSP, SP, NCP and the DMK – had sent a signed letter to the Upper House seeking to refer the bill to a select committee, putting a dampener on the Narendra Modi government plans to bring in big economic reforms. 

BJP sources believe that the SP and BSP may agree to walk out when the Bill is debated in the House, while the NCP has dropped its apprehensions. Finance Minister Arun Jaitley and Parliamentary Affairs Minister M Venkaiah Naidu held informal consultations with Congress leader Anand Sharma to break the logjam. 

Jaitley is also likely to call on Manmohan Singh, whom he has good equations with, to persuade Congress MPs not to stall the much-needed economic reforms. The government has requested the Congress, which is also primarily against funds coming through the Foreign Institutional Investor route, to give in writing their specific concerns on the bill. The Finance Ministry has expressed its willingness to unfold in the House the economic reforms needed to increase fiscal health.

A senior government minister termed the opposition to the legislation nothing but “shadow boxing”, which sought to solicit something else entirely from the NDA government. 

In this context, Jaitley’s interview to television channels was seen as sending a message to the Congress that the NDA was not hounding the Gandhi first family in the National Herald financial irregularities case.

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