Tribune News Service
New Delhi, August 11
The Monsoon Session of Parliament ended prematurely on Wednesday with a bitter clash between the Opposition and the government over use of security personnel in the Rajya Sabha during the passage of the insurance amendment Bill to privatise general insurance companies.
The Opposition MPs walked out of the Rajya Sabha this evening alleging heavy deployment of marshals to prevent their protests.
Congress Chief Whip in Rajya Sabha Jairam Ramesh termed the day as “worse than atrocious” amid indications that Opposition leaders and MPs would assemble in Parliament tomorrow to protest.
“The insurance amendment Bill to privatise general insurance companies was passed in the Rajya Sabha with a large force of security personnel present. The government refused to send it to a select committee as demanded by all Opposition parties, including those close to the BJP. What happened this evening was worse than atrocious,” Congress chief whip Jairam Ramesh said.
Trinamool Congress leader in the Rajya Sabha Derek O Brien alleged that there were more security guards in the Rajya Sabha than MPs as the government bulldozed the insurance Bill.
“RSTV will not show you that. This is censorship, the Modi-Shah Gujarat model at work in Parliament,” he said.
The TMC also alleged that the government used “gender shields” to foil MPs’ protests inside Rajya Sabha today. “Male marshals were sent after women MPs and female marshals were posted in front of male MPs,” Brien said as some women MPs, including TMC’s Dola Sen and Congress’ Ami Yagnik, alleged manhandling by marshals. The government, meanwhile, said marshals were attacked and pushed in the Rajya Sabha.
The Bill, passed by the Lok Sabha earlier, will allow the government to privatise state-owned general insurance companies by amending the parent law of 1972. It follows Finance Minister’s Budget speech where she had said that the government proposes to privatise two public sector banks and one general insurance company in 2021-22 and would bring legislative amendments to this end.
One of the amendments in the new Bill drops a provision which mandates government to keep 51 per cent stake in state-owned insurance firms.
The four general insurance firms in the public sector are Oriental Insurance Company, National Insurance Company, United India Insurance and New India Assurance.