Within five months of the Left withdrawing support, the UPA government on Monday brought in the Rajya Sabha a bill seeking to hike foreign investment in the insurance sector, unfazed by stiff opposition by CPI(M) members who almost came to blows with senior ministers.
The government, which had kept insurance reforms in cold storage for almost four years in view of strong objections from the Left, introduced the Insurance Laws (Amendment) Bill, 2008, after a high drama.
As Minister of State for Finance P K Bansal rose to introduce the bill, CPI(M) member T K Rangarajan dashed towards him to snatch the copy of the bill from him.
An agitated External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee pushed the CPI(M) member to protect his colleague while another minister Meira Kumar provided a shield to Bansal.
In the din, Deputy Chairman K Rahman Khan adjourned the House till 1400 hours.
The CPI(M), helped by new-found friends AIADMK and TDP, appeared determined to stall the introduction of the bill by gathering in the well when the House met after two adjournments in the Question Hour over the A R Antulay issue.
The bill proposes to raise foreign equity in Indian insurance companies from 26 per cent to 49 per cent. It also seeks to allow nationalised general insurance firms to raise money from the market.