In a change of stance, the YSRCP and the Biju Janata Dal, both of whom have maintained a distance from the Opposition, are now supporting the demand to send the controversial General Insurance Business (Nationalisation) Amendment Bill, 2021 to a select committee.
The Bill, one of the last pieces of legislation on the government’s agenda for the monsoon session of Parliament, will come up for discussion on Wednesday. It seeks to enhance private participation in public sector insurance companies.
After multiple adjournments, the government called for a meeting of leaders from all opposition parties at 3 p.m. At the meeting, YSR Congress MP Vijay Sai Reddy forcefully argued in favour of sending the Bill to a select committee.
As per sources, he pointed out that the legislation was vastly different from what Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman had indicated in her budget speech. He quoted from Ms Sitharaman’s speech where she said “....we propose to take up the privatisation of two Public Sector Banks and one General Insurance company in the year 2021-22.” Mr Reddy, it is learnt argued that the current Bill aims at privatisation of all four general insurance companies instead of what was proposed by the Minister.
Parliament proceedings updates | August 10, 2021
He also argued that the Bill proposes selling of stakes upto 51% to a private player giving majority control to a private firm. This is not what the FM had proposed, he said.
The Biju Janata Dal, which was represented by the Floor Leader Prasanna Acharya, too agreed that the Bill needs further parliamentary scrutiny. Mr Acharya, sources said, that considering the impasse, there should be no problem in accepting the Opposition’s proposal.
“We said in very clear terms that the House can function only if the Insurance Bill is sent to a select committee. But they [government] did not agree to it. They are adamant that this Bill has to pass in the House. The meeting ended in disagreement,” an opposition leader said. Majority of the opposition leaders had come dressed in black on Tuesday too in anticipation of a debate on the General Insurance Bill.
However, AIADMK, which is a NDA ally, stood with the government.
The meeting was attended by Leader of House in Rajya Sabha Piyush Goyal, Deputy Chairman Harivansh and Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs V. Muraleedharan.
From the Opposition, the Congress was represented by deputy leader Anand Sharma and chief whip Jairam Ramesh, TMC chief whip Sukendu Sekhar Ray, DMK’s Tiruchi Siva, CPI (M)’s Elamaram Kareem, YSR Congress’s Vijay Sai Reddy and BJD’s Prasanna Acharya.
According to sources, the 127th Constitution Amendment Bill 2021 will be tabled in Rajya Sabha on Wednesday morning. The Bill aims to bypass a May 2021 Supreme Court ruling that said only the Centre could notify socially and educationally backward classes — and not the States. The Opposition, as in Lok Sabha, will peacefully participate in this discussion. Once this is disposed off, the General Insurance Bill will be taken up. “We will not let it go lightly. We are going to oppose it tooth and nail,”another opposition leader said.