New Delhi, Dec. 18: The Centre today got the banking bill passed in the Lok Sabha with the help of the BJP, breaking a Bengal bond that dissipated when Trinamul Congress members disappeared one after the other during voting.
The Left was left in the lurch and the outcome read: 27 against, 205 for the banking bill.
The bill raises voting rights of investors in private banks, which can encourage foreign investors, empowers the RBI to supersede private boards and clears the way for new licences.
The government turned the BJP around by accepting its suggestions at the standing committee and dropping a clause that allowed banks to participate in commodity futures trading. The Opposition felt that such a clause would lead to speculative trading in commodities.
Having won over the BJP, the big question was how the Bengal brigade — the Left and Trinamul — would act after singing an indistinguishable tune.
Just when the House was preparing for the rare political spectacle of the two sworn enemies voting together in isolation from the rest, Trinamul members didn’t act out the last scene.
They disappeared from the stage without making any fuss, not even announcing a walkout. Trinamul sources later claimed they did not want to be seen as voting with the Left too often, especially after the FDI test under a larger Opposition umbrella.
The government, emboldened by the success, was testing wider choppy waters, including legislation on insurance and pension. But some sources were sceptical, citing the postponement of the land bill till the next budget session.
The factor that stood out today was the Left-Trinamul symphony and its sudden collapse. Trinamul’s Saugata Roy, who sounds like CPI’s Gurudas Dasgupta nowadays, was aggressively supported by the Left when he was attacking the government.
The CPM members also trooped into the well, protesting loudly when a Trinamul point of order failed to block the introduction of the bill. The House was adjourned for a while.
Both Trinamul and the Left decried “the pro-rich, pro-US” Manmohan-Chidambaram model.
Finance minister Chidambaram responded: “Please do not equate me with the Prime Minister. The Prime Minister is a distinguished economist; I am not. The Prime Minister has vast experience; I do not have….”
He contested the charge of job losses, saying at least 6,000 new branches would be opened every year and they would need employees.
The Lok Sabha also passed the Companies Act, which asks firms to set aside a prescribed amount for corporate social responsibility activities and seeks to tighten rules that can affect chit funds.