Friday, March 13, 2015

Narendra Modi Government: The Politics of Somersault
Abhishek Banerjee  is the nephew
of WB CM, Ms.Mamata Banerjee
PhotoAll India Trinamool Congress
Yesterday, 12 March 2015, the Rajya Sabha passed the Insurance Laws (Amendment) Bill, 2015, paving the way for the increase in the limit for foreign investment in the insurance sector to 49% from 26%. The bill has already been cleared in the Lok Sabha. The Bill will become an Act once the President signs it.

However, a point to be noted is that the UPA government Government had come-up with a similar bill or which was more or less the same, earlier. There were hardly any major changes as compared to the present one. But at that time the BJP OPPOSED the BILL in the Parliament........Huh!

According to The Economic Times, December 6, 2013: The BJP leader Yashwant Sinha at that time said that his party was willing to support the Insurance Laws (Amendment) Bill, 2008 provided the government shed its obstinate stand of providing 49% FDI in the sector.

It would not be an  exaggeration to mention here that the Bharatiya Janata Party had opposed reforms on a number of occasions in the past.

In case of Insurance Bill, while the Standing Committee on Finance led by former finance minister and BJP leader Yashwant Sinha had advised against hiking the foreign direct investment cap in the insurance sector to 46%, the BJP along with Left parties had also opposed any such move way back in 2004.

“Hum virodh karenge (we will oppose it),” former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee had said in July 2004 when former finance minister P Chidambaram had announced in his Budget speech for 2004-05 that the UPA would amend increase the FDI cap in insurance sector to 49% from the existing 26%.

While in later years the party (BJP) had once again expressed tacit support to the plan, its stance changed after Sinha had in December 2011 in its report on the Insurance Laws (Amendment) Bill, 2008, opposed a higher limit for foreign investments in the sector.

“The Committee are of the considered view that in the present global economic scenario, any further hike in FDI at this juncture may not be in the interest of the Indian insurance industry, whereby the common man too would not stand to gain through insurance, particularly as a means of social security,” said the report, adding that insurers should instead raise capital from the markets. On being contacted by The Indian Express, Sinha declined to comment on the issue. 

But with the dissolution of the 15th Lok Sabha, the report seems to have been set aside. Finance minister Arun Jaitley tabled a fresh Bill in Parliament to raise the FDI limit in the insurance sector.

Interestingly, the senior Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader Chandan Mitra, who was chairman of the Rajya Sabha select committee that recently submitted a report endorsing the Insurance Laws (Amendment) Bill, 2008, says he won over Congress members of Parliament (MPs) by persuading them it was “their Bill”.

The Narendra Modi government has become a champion, in taking U-turns from their previously stated positions. This has already drawn sharp criticism from a large section of the intelligentsia.  

Meanwhile, in December last year, the National president of All India Trinamool Yuva, Abhishek Banerjee, in an apparent dig at Prime Minister Narendra Modi termed the BJP as "Bharatiya Joker Party".
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