Fate of the Insurance Bill hangs in balance with the Congress expressing its opposition to the manner in which it was brought and approved by Lok Sabha and the government hinting at the possibility of a Joint Session to clear the key reform measure.
With the BJP and its allies not having majority in the Upper House, the government is critically dependent on the support of the Congress for the passage of the Insurance Amendment Bill which seeks to raise foreign investment cap in the sector to 49 per cent from 26 per cent.
The bill seeking to replace an ordinance on the subject was cleared by Lok Sabha today and faces the real test in the Rajya Sabha where it is likely to be taken up after the Holi holidays.
Talking to reporters after successfully piloting the bill in the Lower House, Minister of State for Finance Jayant Sinha said, “If Insurance Bill is defeated in the Rajya Sabha... it will open an opportunity for a Joint Session of Parliament.”Hoping that Congress supports the bill in the Rajya Sabha, he said, “We will have to see who supports it in the Rajya Sabha as BJP lacks numbers.”
Congress, which brought the original bill way back in 2008, however, is non-commital on supporting the measure.
“We are opposed to the methodology, style and manner in which it has been brought bypassing Parliament,” Congress spokesperson Abhishek Singhvi said.
He said that his party was also against the fact that the bill tried to change the report of the select committee which scrutinised the insurance bill.
At the same, Singhvi dismissed suggestion that the party had take a u-turn on the issue.
A senior party leader said in private that the best thing would be to keep the bill pending in the Rajya Sabha for long as its rejection could pave the way for a Joint Session.
For any measure to be brought in the Joint Session, it needs to be approved by one house and rejected by the other.