The move will delay the passage of Narendra Modi-led government’s key economic reform until the Winter session. The Bill aims to increase foreign equity from 26 to 49 per cent in the insurance sector.
According to sources, the government is likely to table the Bill in the Rajya Sabha on Thursday with the understanding that most of the Opposition would demand that it be referred to a select committee. Such a panel comprises nominees of all political parties in proportion to their numbers in the House. The National Democratic Alliance (NDA) nominees, therefore, would be in a minority in the committee.
The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), sources said, was likely to name member of Parliament (MPs) Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi, Chandan Mitra and J P Nadda as its nominees to the select committee. The Congress is likely to nominate former commerce minister Anand Sharma, Jesudasu Seelam and B K Hariprasad. The BJP has 42 MPs while the Congress has 69 MPs in the Rajya Sabha. The NDA government had shied away from tabling the Bill in the House after the Congress and several other Opposition parties demanded it be referred to a select committee. It had sought to build consensus on the Bill by convening an all-party meeting but Congress argued that text of the Bill carried several amendments that weren’t part of the Bill the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government had tabled in the Rajya Sabha in 2008, which was then approved by a standing committee in 2011.
The BJP’s position was that the amendments were of an “inconsequential” nature and that it was willing to make minor modifications. However, neither the Congress nor several other opposition parties, including AIADMK, Left parties, Trinamool Congress, Samajwadi Party and Bahujan Samaj Party, agreed to support the Bill. UPA allies Nationalist Congress Party and Biju Janata Dal did come out in support of the Bill but the numbers didn’t stack up for the government to have the confidence for pushing the Bill through. The BJP had opposed the Bill when the previous UPA government had sought to table it.
A select panel, which comprises members of only one of the Houses, unlike a joint committee, considers the Bill clause by clause. Amendments can be moved to various clauses by members. The panel can also take the advice of associations, public bodies or experts who are interested in the Bill. After a Bill has been considered, the panel submits its report to the House, members who do not agree with the majority report might append their minutes of dissent to the report.