Being the original architects of the plan to allow FDI in insurance and pension has queered the pitch for the BJP, which is now caught between backing Mamata Banerjee in opposing the legislation, or allowing it to pass and trying to take credit for it.
Following the announcement by the Cabinet yesterday, BJP spokesperson Prakash Javadekar said that they were willing to back the economic legislation in the event that it met the criteria they needed. He also pointed out that the original proposal had been put forward by former Finance Minister Yashwant Sinha during the NDA regime.
Clarifying BJP’s stand on the issue, Javadekar said, "We are not opposed to FDI in insurance and pensions as we created it. Our concern is that many foreign companies have already invested more than 26 percent through debenture-type investments. Now, that will be converted into equity so no new FDI will come in.”
The BJP has strongly opposed any economic legislation that the UPA has attempted to push through, and even backed a nationwide agitation to oppose allowing FDI in multi-brand retail and restricting the number of subsidised LPG cylinders that would be available.
Given that the BJP disrupted the previous session of Parliament over the CAG report on coal block allocations, whether they will allow the next session to function and pass the bill remains to be seen.
Erstwhile UPA ally Mamata Banerjee has already declared that she will oppose the economic legislations, and while the BJP has hinted they will support her in Parliament, being the original architects of the proposals they may not want to be seen opposing it for the sake of doing so.
However, the West Bengal Chief Minister has no such doubts and made it apparent yesterday.
"Is it the intention of the UPA Government to sell out the country? We should unitedly oppose all such moves and will not allow the government to be bailed out after a series of such anti-people decisions," Banerjee wrote on her Facebook page.
"The minority government cannot play such immoral role. Let us move No Confidence Motion. We have decided to meet the Hon’ble President on this issue," she wrote.
As the numbers stand the UPA has 254 MPs in the Lok Sabha and providing outside support are the BSP
Samajwadi Party, RJD and and JD(S) who have 50 MPs between them. While the Samajwadi Party and BSP might get cold feet over backing the decisions, Mulayam Singh's party has already said they will oppose the legislation, as unlikely as it sounds it may be the BJP's 114 MPs that may have to come to the rescue of the UPA in this case.
However, it would be a change in stance that many party leaders may find difficult to digest. It might just be easier to either continue with its stance on corruption, or back the opponents like Mamata to propose a no-confidence motion and hope to delay the passage of the legislation.