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Government buys time on Insurance Bill, likely to take final call on Thursday

Aug 06, 2014 10:16 AM IST Politics Politics

New Delhi: There is no end to the deadlock between the government and the opposition parties on the Insurance Bill. Even as the Centre is buying more time over the issue, an all-party meeting scheduled for Wednesday has been scrapped.

According to sources, the government is expected to take a final call on the issue on Thursday. Sources also say that separate consultations are on with leaders from all political parties.

Opposition parties want the Bill referred to a Select Committee. The Congress has claimed that it has the support of the AIADMK along with other parties who are opposed to certain clauses in the Bill.

The NDA government, which does not have the numbers in the Rajya Sabha, is trying to break the deadlock.

The Congress said that the reference to the Select Committee was not opposition to the bill. Senior Congress leader Anand Sharma said, "Changes can be made by a House Committee. Individual changes cannot be made to a Bill which is part of the process of legislative business. It's a legitimate demand of the Opposition for a Select Committee to look into the changes to the Bill."

Earlier in the day, Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi rejected Jaitley's charges and said that there are no double standards by the Congress on the Insurance Bill.

Rahul's statement came a day after Jaitley said that the government had given the Congress three options - to either approve, reject or amend the Bill on the floor of the House but not delay it. Jaitley said that he hoped that higher counsel prevails in the Congress as he had borrowed former finance minister P Chidambaram's words in the Insurance Bill.

"We exactly borrowed Chidambaram's language. We have given three options to the Congress on the Insurance Bill," he said.

The Bill proposes to raise the FDI cap in the insurance sector from the present 26 per cent to 49 per cent. It was first proposed by the Congress-led UPA government and a total of 86 amendments were proposed. The BJP government is in a minority in the Rajya Sabha and needs the Congress's help to pass the Bill.