Jaitley vows insurance reforms soon; Chidambaram scoffs

India's finance minister Arun JaitleyIndia's finance minister Arun Jaitley on Friday expressed confidence that the Insurance Amendment Bill, which aims to raise the foreign direct investment (FDI) from 26 per cent to 49 per cent, will be passed in the winter session of parliament beginning 24 November.

"I hope to get a positive report from the select committee. An insurance bill may be passed,'' he said at a book launch function in New Delhi, where he was pitted in debate against his predecessor as finance minister, P Chidambaram.

The debate was part of the launch of 2014: The election that changed India written by consulting editor of the India Today Group and well-known TV news anchor Rajdeep Sardesai. It was moderated by Karan Thapar, a senior journalist with India Today.

The insurance bill is currently with the Select Committee of Parliament which is expected to give its report in third week of November.

"Like all good things, this (Insurance Amendment Bill) will come. I am hoping for a positive select Committee report. And I do hope to pass it this month," Jaitley said.

On why the Congress party was opposing its own insurance bill, Chidambaram said, "Perhaps the Congress party is doing tit for tat. It might not be the politically correct thing to do, but if they hung it up to dry for one year, maybe some in the Congress party thought let them hang out to dry for four months."

Recalling his meetings with BJP leader Sushma Swaraj and other leaders in December 2013, Chidambaram said, "I implored them; they said no. Finally they said the BJP has no appetite to pass any bills anymore."

Chidambaram said he would cheer from outside if an insurance amendment bill was passed in the winter session.