Government can expect some relief on Insurance Laws Amendment Bill, which is likely to come in Rajya Sabha on Thursday for consideration and passage, with main Opposition party Congress appearing willing to support it on the measure.
The bill, which aims at increasing the cap on foreign direct investment (FDI) in the public sector insurance companies from 26 to 49% was passed by Lok Sabha last week. Left is totally opposed to the bill. Factoring in this principled stand of Left on the FDI, Government has decided to move ahead and bring the bill in Rajya Sabha tomorrow after talking to other Opposition parties.
The issue came up for discussion in a meeting held by Finance Minister Arun Jaitley with leaders of all parties in Rajya Sabha in the morning, which saw Government agreeing to opposition's demands of referring the Coal and Mines bill and the Mines and Minerals bill to Select Committee of the Upper House that will submit recommendations by March 18, two days before the House goes for a recess.
The bills that the government wants to push through Parliament in the first half of the budget session are the Land Acquisition Bill, Mines and Minerals (Development and Regulation) Amendment Bill, Insurance Laws Amendment Bill, The Coal Mines (Special Provisions) Bill 2015, Motor Vehicles (Amendment) Bill and Citizenship (Amendment) Bill.
They will replace the Ordinances issued by the government on these subjects. However, they have to be converted into bills before the recess as they will expire by April 5 otherwise. Sources indicated that Opposition parties including Congress have made it clear to the government that they won't support it on land bill.
Congress has, however, refrained from adopting a hardline approach on insurance bill, which was first brought during the UPA's tenure. "Insurance bill is different. It has gone through Select Committee. There could be a unanimity on insurance," said a senior leader from the Opposition block.
The bill was passed by the Lok Sabha on March 4 after a short debate. The bill will now have to pass the test of Rajya Sabha where BJP and its allies do not have majority and the government is critically dependent on the support of the Congress.
It was sent to a 15-member select committee of the Rajya Sabha headed by Chandan Mitra of BJP in August 2014. The government brought the ordinance on it in December, which it now seeks to replace with a bill. Congress, which brought the original bill way back in 2008, has so far been ambiguous on supporting the measure saying while the party is "not against the bill per se" but is "opposed to the methodology, style and manner in which it has been brought bypassing Parliament."