"I think, there are no double standards on the Insurance Bill by the Congress," party vice president Rahul Gandhi told reporters in Parliament House. At the AICC briefing, party spokesperson Anand Sharma said that it is very strange that the Opposition parties are being treated as "petitioners to the government".
"We are being given three options.... This smacks of arrogance. There should be grace and humility while engaging with the Opposition," he said, adding that it was "correct" for the combined Opposition to pitch for a select committee to examine the new amendments to the bill.
"Reference to select committee does not mean taking a confrontationist attitude. We are in favour of 49 per cent FDI. It does not mean Parliamentary processes should be bypassed," he said adding that it is the privilege of the House to get the changes examined by such a committee. "Government has to accept what is reasonable and correct," he said adding, "It is the government, which has an obstructionist approach".
"Those who did not allow the bill to pass for six years should not teach Congress about national interest. We are not being confrontationist and not indulging in partisan politics like they had done. Why are they in desperate hurry now? Why they cannot give six weeks?" he said.
Responding to questions about the BJP's suggestion that the government will accept the changes but the Congress has to suggest them, Sharma insisted, "Changes can be made only in the select committee. Individuals parties cannot make changes. Let the select committee examine it before the bill comes to the House."
To questions about the government working with other parties to enlist their support for the bill, the Congress leader insisted "Opposition has the majority right now". On the possibility of the government calling a joint session to pass the bill, Sharma said a joint session can be called to pass a bill only when it has been passed by one House and the other House has rejected it.
The controversial Insurance Bill, which was listed in Rajya Sabha yesterday, was deferred for consideration for the time being after a meeting of the government with opposition leaders failed to break the deadlock in the face of the demand to send it to a Select Committee.
The meeting, convened by Parliamentary Affairs Minister M Venkaiah Naidu yesterday, could not iron out differences with the opposition despite Finance Minister Arun Jaitley's plea that the current bill has virtually the same language and content as the previous bill of the Congress-led UPA.