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HindustanTimes Sun,21 Dec 2014

Parliament test for big, bang reforms

Saubhadra Chatterji and Vikas Pathak, Hindustan Times  New Delhi, October 04, 2012
First Published: 23:09 IST(4/10/2012) | Last Updated: 07:49 IST(5/10/2012)

Even as it announced its intention to undertake reforms through legislative route, the UPA’s main challenge will now lie in garnering support in Parliament, particularly with the government on a stickier wicket after ally Trinamool Congress quit the ruling dispensation over reforms.

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The Cabinet on Thursday cleared long-pending bills to amend pension, insurance, forward contracts act. As Left, Trinamool and other non-NDA opposition parties like ADMK and BJD are set to fiercely oppose all these bills, the ball is now in the NDA’s court.

Though the BJP maintained it was pro-reforms, it remained non-committal on supporting these Bills in Parliament. BJP spokesperson Prakash Javadekar said the party was the first to propose FDI in insurance. The idea: to be seen as pro-reforms, even as the party questions the government over finer points.

The BJP and its ally JD(U) are likely to oppose 49% FDI in insurance sector, as they want the cap to remain at 26%.

The pension bill also faces uncertainty, with the BJP set to oppose 49% FDI here too. The BJP had suggested 26% FDI in pension, with assured returns and other benefits.

“Fineprints are required to be seen before we make our position clear,” said BJP spokesperson Ravi Shankar Prasad. “Finance minister said the cap for insurance would also automatically apply to pension. The BJP is committed to protect pensioners’ hard-earned money.”

Congress spokesperson Manish Tewari said: “We will iron out the creases by the sheer logic of economic rationalism. It is imperative upon any government to take steps for the macro-economic stability.”

The UPA was already in minority in Rajya Sabha even before Trinamool withdrew support. Now, the problem becomes more acute.

In their tussle for one-upmanship, both Trinamool and the Left parties announced blanket opposition to all these bills.

“This government is determined to sell out the interests of the country... We will work to defeat these Bills in Parliament,” said CPM’s Prakash Karat.

The UPA’s two key outside supporters also kept the government guessing: BSP kept mum, but SP spokesperson Mohan Singh said, “We never wanted these bills. But we are also fighting communal forces. We can’t say now what will be the party’s final decision.”


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