| Mukul Roy |
New Delhi, June 7: The UPA government today held back a key measure towards ending the perception of policy paralysis, deferring changes to the pension bill under the Trinamul Congress pressure.
The Union cabinet skipped discussions on the Pension Fund Regulatory and Development Authority (PFRDA) Bill, taking into account a letter from Mukul Roy, who acted in the capacity of the chairman of the Trinamul parliamentary party, not as railway minister.
The bill might be taken up at the next cabinet meeting, government sources said.
The Trinamul spanner stunned the government as it had tried to address her concerns by proposing amendments to the bill. Sources said the letter reflected Trinamul’s frustration at the failure of the Centre to announce any financial relief for Bengal even after chief minister Mamata Banerjee’s meeting with the Prime Minister in early May.
The Trinamul was expecting an announcement after the budget session of Parliament, but none has come so far. In the intervening weeks, the Congress had also tried to shore up its support by assiduously courting Mulayam Singh Yadav.
Mukul sent the letter to the Prime Minister and the finance minister last evening, urging the government to put the pension bill changes on hold as his party had not yet formulated an opinion on the impact on common people, the sources said. Mamata’s nominee underscored that in principle, the Trinamul was opposed to reforms in pension.
The letter pointed out that the Trinamul Congress was unrepresented in the parliamentary panel that studied the bill and could not give its opinion. Sudip Bandopadhyay was a member of the parliamentary standing committee on finance, headed by BJP’s Yashwant Sinha, but the Trinamul could not provide a replacement after he was appointed a junior minister, Mukul said in his letter.
Mukul decided to attend the cabinet meeting this morning only after being assured that discussions on the bill would be deferred, it was learnt. Mukul, who reached here yesterday and preferred a by-election campaign meeting to a Prime Minister’s meeting on infrastructure, left for Calcutta after the cabinet meeting.
The government had proposed the amendments long ago and sought Mamata’s backing. During the winter session in December last year, parliamentary affairs minister P.K. Bansal had personally handed over three amendments to the PFRDA bill to party leader Sudip.