Following the lack of political consensus on FDI in retail, the UPA government is treading cautiously on two reforms bills: the Insurance Act (Amendment) bill and the Pension Fund Regulatory and Development Act (PFRDA) bill.
While the first bill aims to increase the FDI limit from 26% to 49% in insurance companies, the pension bill saw opposition parties seeking amendment to at least ensure guaranteed returns for the investors.
After slating the pension bill for passing in the Lok Sabha on Tuesday, the government didn’t put it up on the List of Business on Wednesday.
Sources in the Trinamool Congress told HT that the government floor managers had been informed that party leader and West Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee was “studying” the bill.
While the BJP has offered support with riders on the pension bill, the government wants to wait for the green signal from the key alliance partner.
Trinamool parliamentary party chief Sudip Bandopadhyay, who is Union minister of state for health, told HT: “We are examining the bill. The bill may contain some lucrative provisions but it may turn out to be anti-people in the long run.” Sources said a copy of the bill had been sent to Kolkata for Banerjee, who has asked her party colleagues in New Delhi to discuss the issue with senior bureaucrats.
The insurance bill has also run into rough weather as a parliamentary standing committee headed by BJP member Yashwant Sinha recently rejected almost all the key provisions of the proposed law including enhancing the FDI cap. A section of the government feels pushing the bill may be counter-productive because the opposition is against it and some allies may also develop cold feet as the bill relates to FDI.
Parliamentary affairs minister Pawan Kumar Bansal told HT: “Currently, our focus remains on passing non-controversial bills.”
The Trinamool may demand some amendments to the pension bill to hold out the impression that the government has relented under its pressure and not succumbed to the demands of the BJP and the Left.
The Left has also reached out to its arch rival Trinamool to stop the pension bill. After the CPI(M) spoke to the Trinamool on Tuesday, CPI leader Gurudas Dasgupta called Lok Sabha Trinamool chief Kalyan Banerjee on Wednesday seeking the party's help to stop the bill. Trinamool managers are now looking forward to Banerjee’s visit to New Delhi on Thursday.
“We hope she takes the final call during her stay in the capital after getting the feedback,” said a Trinamool leader.