JD(U) leader Sharad Yadav objects to Govt’s big ticket reforms

     Janata Dal-United chief Sharad Yadav, on Thursday voiced a strong objection to the opening up of the country’s insurance and pension sectors for foreign direct investment (FDI), describing the government as an incompetent entity without a voice of its own. Yadav said if the government was so keen on letting private investors take over key sectors, it must hand over its power to them as well.

“I am saying that (FDI) will inevitably come. The only thing that is not mortgaged is the Indian government. Why are these incompetent people in power? Let the people from the market come and take charge. Why should we persist with people who have no voice of their own?” he said.

The cabinet has approved bills that would raise the cap on foreign direct investment in insurance firms and open the pension sector to foreign investors. The bills, which require parliamentary approval before becoming law, will likely be taken up in the forthcoming parliamentary session. Their approval on Thursday will come weeks after Prime Minister Manmohan Singh unveiled measures aimed at shoring up government finances and attracting foreign investment to revive economic growth. Foreign groups are not allowed to invest in the pension sector, while investment is capped at 26 percent in the insurance sector.

Financial sector reforms, including pension and insurance have been pending for years for want of a political consensus. Yadav also spoke in support of Lal Krishna Advani, senior leader of the JD-U’s political ally, the Bharatiya Janata Party. Dismissing talk of Advani being an unsuitable candidate for Prime Ministership in 2014, Yadav said that young Prime Ministers were the exception, and not the norm in India, explaining that to rise so high in the politics of such a large country was a long, time-consuming process.

“People say about LK Advani that he is aged, but which Indian Prime Minister was not? Young Prime Ministers are an exception. Morarji (Desai) and Chaudhary Charan Singh were both aged. A person born in an ordinary home will inevitably take a long time to rise so high. After all, India is a large country and it will take time for people to recognise such a leader,” Yadav said. The 84-year-old Advani contested both the 2004 and 2009 general elections as the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance’s Prime Ministerial candidate. In the NDA government, he served as Interior Minister from 1998 to 2004, and the Deputy Prime Minister from 2000 to 2004.

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