Insurance Bill Divides Parliament as Winter Session Begins: 10 Developments

NEW DELHI: The landmark insurance bill that represents the BJP-led government’s first major legislative reform is set to face strong opposition in Parliament, with many opposition parties threatening to stonewall it.

As the winter session began today, Prime Minister Narendra Modi reminded lawmakers from all parties that, “All MPs have a responsibility to run the country.”

Here are 10 developments in this story:
  1. The Trinamool Congress of West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee has said it will oppose the bill, which seeks to raise the cap on foreign direct investment in the insurance sector. “There is no question of passing the bill. First let it be taken up, clause by clause, in the select committee,” said Trinamool leader Derek O’Brien.
  2. The Congress, which is the largest opposition party, has been noncommittal. “We will discuss the insurance bill with all opposition parties and to make a unanimous decision,” said Congress leader Kamal Nath.
  3. Uttar Pradesh politician Mayawati also said her party would reveal its stand only before the select committee of Parliament. “Our opposition will not be irresponsible,” Mayawati, the chief of the Bahujan Samaj Party, told reporters. The party has 14 members in the Rajya Sabha, where the ruling BJP is in a minority.
  4.  On Sunday, after an all-party meeting, Janata Dal United lawmaker KC Tyagi had promised a lot of “hungama” this session, stating that his party, the Trinamool, CPM and others would block the Insurance Bill.”
  5. Mr Tyagi’s party and others belonging to what they call the “Janata Parivar” – including Lalu Prasad Yadav’s Rashtriya Janata Dal, Mulayam Singh Yadav’s Samajwadi Party, and the Janata Dal (Secular) of HD Deve Gowda – have said they will function as a pressure group in Parliament.
  6. The Trinamool Congress is expected to find support from other opposition parties in its attack on the government on the issue of black money and what it calls, “the rising number of communal flare-ups” across the country.
  7. On his way to Parliament, PM Modi said he hoped the opposition will continue to play “a constructive role.” He said, “We have to work with a calm mind in the cold climate We all friends who sit in parliament will work together – that’s my belief,” PM Modi said.
  8. The Shiv Sena has promised to support the BJP in Parliament despite their acrimonious break-up in Maharashtra.
  9. Both Houses were adjourned on Monday after obituary references for the Congress’ Rajya Sabha MP and former union minister Murli Deora who died early on Monday and Lok Sabha lawmaker from the Trinamool Congress Kapil krishna Thakur, who had died last month.
  10. The winter session will continue till December 23 and will have 22 sittings. Besides the insurance bill, the government has detailed 36 other bills it wants passed, among them the Goods and Service Tax (GST) bill.

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