Hope for insurance, pension bills as BJP set to tone down opposition


The insurance and pension reforms bills, hanging fire due to a lack of political consensus, look set to see the light of day in the monsoon session of Parliament as the BJP is learnt to be inclined to allow their passage.

Opposition to the bills by the BJP, as well as the Left and other parties, was the main roadblock to crucial reforms in these sectors.

While the BJP may not officially support these bills, it is learnt that its opposition to them would be customary at best and limited to a few fiery speeches in Parliament to register the party's broad criticism of the government's economic policies and their failure.

Sources said the change in the BJP's approach is not just because of the fact that the BJP was the original proponent of reforms in these sectors but also because the party leadership feels it needs an image makeover — from a trigger-happy party shooting down every attempt by the UPA government to revive the economy to a constructive opposition ready to give up partisan politics in the larger national interest.

This also fits in with the party's plans to project Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi as a `vikas purush' in the `Vajpayee-mould'.

Having announced its decision to raise the FDI cap in insurance to 49 per cent from 26 per cent, the government is preparing to bring the insurance laws amendment bill for passage in the next session. With the JD(U), which has 20 members in the Lok Sabha, already signaling its readiness to play ball on this issue, the insurance bill looks set to get parliamentary approval.

"We will, of course, put our objections on the table very loudly but we will not block its passage. Even the JD(U) seems to be in support of this bill now," a senior BJP leader told The Sunday Express, adding that the party would adopt the "same approach" when it comes to the pension bill.

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