Doubtful of support from Samajwadi Party and Bahujan Samaj Party on the issue of increasing foreign direct investment (FDI) cap in insurance and pension, the Congress has started working on the Opposition BJP, which supports the decision “in principle.”

Senior party leaders hinted at certain amendments in both the to suit the demands of BJP. The BJP has been demanding “assured return” to pensioners who are investing in pension funds.

“We will discuss such issues with the BJP leadership. We are not bothered about the Opposition from supporters if the BJP ensures its support,” a senior Congress functionary said, adding that the discussion on the issue is still “premature.”

The leader said unlike FDI in retail, it will be easy for the Government to convince the BJP on FDI in pension and insurance.

The winter session of Parliament is likely to start from the third week of November. As both these are finance Bills, the Government may fall if it is unable to muster a majority on them.

For the record, the Congress has challenged the BJP to show its commitment towards reforms. When asked whether the party would reach out to the Opposition to gather support to the reform Bills, the party’s chief spokesperson, Janardhan Dwivedi, said the Government and the party were trying to build a consensus on the issue.

He told reporters here on Friday that the BJP should show their commitment towards reforms by supporting these Bills.

The BJP is also holding internal discussions on the Cabinet’s new decision. A senior party leader hinted that the party was divided over support to the Bills. He said in 1997, the BJP opposed the Pension Bill when it was first introduced in Parliament.

“We got the support of Left parties then. I don’t think the content of the Bill has changed much,” the leader added.

BJP’s Vice-President Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi told reporters here that there was a question mark on the legal and political intentions behind the move of the Government.

However, he did not clarify whether the BJP would vote against the Bills. The party had said on Thursday that increasing the cap on FDI was originally an idea of the erstwhile NDA Government. A big section in the party, particularly its MPs, feel that its base among the middle class would erode if an impression was created that the BJP was anti-reforms.

jigeesh.am@thehindu.co.in

(This article was published on October 5, 2012)
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