Centre eyes ordinance route for insurance FDI as Oppn stalls Rajya Sabha for 9th day

With just two working days left for the current Rajya Sabha session and the House marred by opposition clamour for debate on the so-called conversion issue, the government is likely to take the ordinance route to hike foreign direct investment (FDI) limit in the insurance sector to 49 per cent.

Amid continuing uproar in the morning, the Rajya Sabha has been adjourned today till 12:00 hrs. The Lok Sabha proceedings are going on smoothly. However, both Houses normally do not take up any government legislative business on Friday as it is reserved for private members' bills.

This leaves just two working days, 22 and 23 December, in the current session.

The BJP-led National Democratic Alliance is in a minority in the Rajya Sabha and the opposition is using this to its full advantage to block key legislation.

''In case the insurance bill is not passed in this session, the ordinance route can't be ruled out,'' a top government official said on Thursday.

In case the Rajya Sabha adjourns without transacting any major business today as well, the ninth successive day of disruption over the religious conversion controversy, the government may have to take recourse to an ordinance to get through the insurance bill.

While the ordinance may work for now, the government needs to get it converted into an Act in the next session of Parliament.

The government is also in a hurry to put in place a statutory framework for foreign equity in financial sector FDI before US President Barack Obama's visit next month.

The insurance bill has been pending in the Rajya Sabha for the last eight years for want of consensus. It was referred to a select committee of the Rajya Sabha in the last session and the committee submitted its report on 10 December, which was cleared by the cabinet the same day.