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Opposition Parties unite against Insurance Bill Row

Nine Opposition parties, including the Congress, have signed a letter asking the chairman of the Rajya Sabha to refer the Narendra Modi government’s first big reform, the Insurance Bill, to a parliamentary panel.

The government has been making efforts to stall such a move as this will delay an important part of its attempt to rev a sluggish economy. The Insurance Laws (Amendment) Bill aims to raise the ceiling on foreign direct investment (FDI) in insurance to 49 per cent from the current 26 per cent limit.

Even as it attempted to get the Congress to back the bill on Friday, the ruling BJP issued a whip for all its members to be present in the Rajya Sabha on Monday, when it plans to introduce the bill in the Upper House.

The BJP-led NDA has a brute majority in the Lok Sabha and the bill will sail through there. But it first needs to get it through the Rajya Sabha where the BJP is in a minority and will need the Congress’ help.

The Opposition parties that have signed the resolution demanding that the bill be sent to a select committee are – the Congress, the CPM, the CPI, the Bahujan Samaj Party, the Samajwadi Party, the Nationalist Congress Party, the DMK, the AIADMK and the Trinamool Congress. These parties have said that there are substantive changes in the Modi government’s version of the Insurance Bill and these must be reviewed by the all-party parliamentary panel.

BJP leaders, however, say this is in fact a “UPA bill” since it includes only 11 amendments proposed by the present government and 86 proposed by the previous Congress-led UPA government.

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