AS several smaller opposition parties joined hands in an attempt to derail the government’s reform agenda, the Congress on Monday sensed the mood and started distancing itself from the insurance and GST bills which its UPA government had authored. The Congress said there is “no blank cheque” on its support for these bills. The government could face problems in passing the labour reforms legislations as well.
The principal opposition party is under pressure from JD(U), RJD, Samajwadi Party, Trinamool Congress and the Left to come along and forge a broad opposition unity to put the government on the backfoot in Rajya Sabha, where the ruling coalition does not have a majority. The Congress added to the government’s number discomfiture by suggesting its support cannot be taken for granted. “How can there be a blank cheque… There is no blank cheque in legislations or politics… God and devil lie in the details,” Congress spokesperson Abhishek Manu Singhvi said, as it became clear that a host of parties are set to join hands to ensure that their voice is heard on these key legislations.
Although the Congress said the Goods and Services Tax Bill is “entirely a Congress baby” and it has in principle “no reason to jettison”, Singhvi said its support was “subject to nitty gritty” as it is not yet clear whether the Bill is being brought in the same form. As for the Insurance Laws (Amendment) Bill, which seeks to raise the FDI ceiling in the sector from 26 to 49 per cent, Singhvi significantly remained non-committal, saying “it is dangerous to speak in abstract”.
The Bill is with the Select Committee which is in the final stages of discussing it. The resignation of J P Nadda and Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi from the panel had delayed finalisation of the report. The government will on Tuesday bring a motion in Rajya Sabha to appoint V P Singh Badnore and R Ramakrishna in their place.