The Winter Session of Parliament, beginning Monday, is set to be stormy with politics taking precedence over economics as several opposition parties are ganging up to oppose the Insurance Laws Amendment Bill, which the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) expected to sail through.
The Left parties, Trinamool Congress (TMC), JD(U), Rashtriya Janata Dal, Samajwadi Party (SP) and Bahujan Samaj Party have decided to make a common cause against the Bill and asked the Congress to support them for the larger Opposition unity. Both TMC and SP skipped the all-party meeting addressed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday.
However, Mallikarjun Kharge, leader of the Congress in Lok Sabha, was ambivalent on support to the Opposition move against the Bill saying the party would first see what amendments the government brings.
There have already been sharp exchanges between the Congress and the BJP in recent days over the legacy of national leaders, the Kisan Vikas Patra and the State Bank of India loan to the Adani Group's coal mining venture in Australia.
Union finance minister Arun Jaitley on Sunday hit back at the Congress saying the party is planning strategy to block official business and legislation in Parliament. "Since when has the issue of a creditor's willingness to give debt to a borrower become an issue of public debate. It entirely depends upon the debtor-creditor relationship and the credit worthiness of the debtor. This showed a paucity of issues with the Congress Party," Jaitley posted on Facebook.
Modi assured the parties that collectively all important issues can be taken up and hoped that the month-long session will go very well like the last Budget Session.
"The Prime Minister said that the government is ready to take up all issues. With collective wisdom, issues of all parties can be taken forward," parliamentary affairs minister M. Venkaiah Naidu said after the meeting.
Naidu downplayed the Opposition move hoping that these parties would understand the mood of the nation and the spirit of the mandate of the people and cooperate with the government.
He said that the Insurance Bill is in an advance stage of finalisation and since two members of the concerned parliamentary committee have become ministers, two new members would be inducted immediately and it would be requested to give the report by the end of the first week of the Winter Session.
Naidu said that the government will walk the extra mile to accommodate concerns and suggestions of all parties to enable smooth functioning of both the Houses.
Naidu also gave details of the 37 Bills that the government likes to move for introduction and taking up pending Bills for consideration and passing. He made a specific reference to the need for early passing of the Insurance Bill, which seeks to enhance foreign direct investment limit in the sector by the Rajya Sabha.
He also said that the government would like to introduce a Bill regarding the goods and services tax (GST) during the Winter Session.