Pension reform mothballed as Didi has objections.
Even as Congress president Sonia Gandhi on Wednesday urged party MPs to stop being defeatist and rather claim ownership over the UPA government’s achievements, the party got a rap on the knuckles from its allies.
Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee, whose party is the UPA’s biggest ally with 18 MPs, wrote to Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee her party would not support the pension Bill ever. She explained the objections were philosophical.
Mukherjee had gone to great lengths to accommodate not only Trinamool concerns in the Bill but also the Opposition BJP’s. They had demanded the condition that 26 per cent FDI in pension be mentioned expressly so that FDI in the sector could not be brought on the sly.
But, the climbdown proved pointless as the Bill has been shelved for now. The Lok Pal Bill will be introduced tomorrow. The government has announced a three-day extension of the Parliament session (December 27-29) for pending business. But, Banerjee is unlikely to change her mind.
Another blow was dealt by a member of the Sonia Gandhi-headed National Advisory Council, the National Campaign for People’s Right to Information. Its convener, Aruna Roy, who has been critical of the Anna Hazare version of the Lok Pal Bill, on Wednesday joined forces with Hazare in criticising the government’s draft. Law Minister Salman Khurshid, however, asked everyone concerned not to go by the versions in circulation, suggesting the Bill cleared yesterday may be revised.
Congress MPs, who were initially enthused by Gandhi’s address, said they were confused. “The last time, too, there was talk of fighting back. But, we found the government caved in before the Hazare-led activists,” an MP summed up.