Sibal seeks Joshi's support on foreign varsities Bill

Murli Manohar Joshi  

Aarti Dhar

Joshi says BJP will take a final stand after studying details

NEW DELHI: The government on Wednesday approached the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) with a view to garner support for the Foreign Educational Institutions (Regulation of Entry and Operation) Bill, 2010, that allows foreign universities to set up institutions in India.

Cleared by the Union Cabinet, the Bill is scheduled to be tabled in Parliament in the second part of the budget session beginning April 15. However, it has been opposed by all major Opposition parties.

Sources told The Hindu that Union Human Resource Development Minister Kapil Sibal on Wednesday met with senior BJP leader and the former Education Minister Murli Manohar Joshi in this connection.

The meeting was unscheduled and aimed to seek Mr. Joshi's support for the proposed legislation. While Mr. Joshi heard the Minister patiently, he however said that such a discussion could not take place without the government's willingness to share the details of the Bill.

Mr. Joshi is said to have told Mr. Sibal that once the details of the Bill were available with him, these would then be studied before the party took a final view.

The BJP's initial reaction towards the Bill had not been too positive and it said it would not allow for a hasty passage for the proposed legislation. While the Left have opposed the Bill outright, the Bahujan Samaj Party, the Samajwadi Party and the Rashtriya Janata Dal too have expressed their reservations . The government needs support from the Opposition to pass the Bill in Parliament.

The Bill has been hanging fire for the past four years and could not be tabled during the United Progressive Alliance's first tenure because of stiff opposition by the Left parties who were then part of the UPA.