Left parties to consider select divestment

Special Correspondent

New Delhi: The eighth meeting of the United Progressive Alliance and the Left parties here on Monday took up the issues of the Pension Fund Regulatory and Development Authority Bill, the proposal to offload government equity in profit-making public sector undertakings and proposed legislation, including the National Disaster Management Authority Bill, the Communal Harmony Bill and the Scheduled Tribes (Regulation of Forest Rights) Bill.

The Left parties sought to know the status of the Women's Reservation Bill and the move on Central legislation providing for reservation in private, unaided professional educational institutions.

Note on Pension Fund Bill

The Government gave a note on the Pension Fund Bill, now before Parliament. The Left parties agreed to send in their response shortly. The Bill was introduced in the Lok Sabha during March this year and the Standing Committee has already scrutinised it.

The Left parties agreed to consider the Government's proposals to disinvest small portions of equity (subject to certain guiding principles) in select profit-making non-Navratna public sector undertakings to raise resources for the National Investment Fund.

The understanding is that the matter could be considered by restricting the Government not to offload beyond a certain limit. The Left parties responded by saying that they would give other proposals for resource mobilisation.

On the Women's Bill, CPI national secretary D. Raja urged the Government to consult its allies so that some headway could be made. UPA Chairperson Sonia Gandhi is understood to have noted that opposition from some parties was known. Although she did not mention any party, it is well known that the Rashtriya Janata Dal and the Samajwadi Party opposed the Bill. Revolutionary Socialist Party MP Abani Roy said the UPA would have to convince it allies on the Bill.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Ms. Gandhi, Defence Minister Pranab Mukherjee, Home Minister Shivraj Patil, Mr. Chidambaram, Minister of State in the PMO Prithviraj Chavan and Ahmed Patel, political secretary to the Congress president, represented the UPA. The Left leaders included Mr. Karat, Mr. Raja, Mr. Roy and Mr. Yechury.