Saturday, August 02, 2014

Congress finds a reason to object to insurance bill. The new bill mentions FII instead of FDI, says the party.

New Delhi: Congress’ ambivalence towards the insurance bill is getting curiouser. The party does not want to give up its imprimatur over the bill, which it had brought forward in 2012 and which was blocked with malicious tenacity by the BJP which was in the opposition. Congress says that it supports the increase of FDI in the insurance sector from 26 per cent to 49 per cent, and that it cannot support the 60-page in toto bill unless it goes through the details.

But it has managed to find substantial reason for opposing the new form of the bill. Party spokesman Abhishek Manu Singhvi said on Friday that the main objection to the bill in the new form is that it is 49 per cent share of FII (foreign institutional investors) and not FDI (foreign direct investment). Singhvi said that FII will be volatile and slippery and the party has serious reservations about it. But he is still not clear whether the Congress would not vote for it.

The party is being a fence-sitter, and it is looking to the other non-NDA parties who are totally opposed to the bill. The Congress did not want to be seen to be going with the BJP when smaller parties were fully opposing it. It does not want to give up its position as the main opposition party. There is also the desire to make things difficult for the BJP. “They did not give an inch to us,” said a party man speaking on condition of anonymity. But the party will not go the whole length to torpedo the bill.

It has been pointed out that when former finance minister P.Chidambaram introduced the bill and it was referred to the parliamentary standing committee on finance headed by Yashwant Sinha which had objected to the very idea of 49 per cent FDI, the very thing that the BJP is now pushing.

The Congress is also apprehensive that the BJP over the weekend will be trying to wean away parties like the AIADMK and the BSP, which are opposing the bill so on Monday there would not be a problem for introducing it, which was not done on Friday.

The reason for the demand for the House select committee is due to the fact that the bill had already gone through the standing committee phase.

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