| NEW DELHI, March 2
NEW DELHI, March 2 India's opposition Bharatiya
Janata Party will consider raising the cap on foreign investment
in the insurance sector from the current level of 26 percent if
it comes to power after elections due by May, a senior party
leader said on Sunday.
Opening up over $45 billion insurance business to greater
foreign participation is key to reviving investment in the
economy, and the ruling Congress government has repeatedly
sought parliament's approval to raise the limit to 49 percent.
Arun Jaitley, leader of the BJP in the upper house of
parliament, told a television channel that his party had
discussed with Congress leaders ways to break the deadlock over
the insurance legislation.
"We have worked out various alternatives. Unfortunately,
this has (been) too close to the elections," Jaitley, considered
a potential finance minister in case of a BJP victory in the
election, told CNN-IBN in an interview broadcast on Sunday.
The Congress government's attempts to liberalise the sector
were repeatedly blocked by resistance from within its coalition
as well as from the opposition.
Tens of thousands of employees at India's state-controlled
insurance companies and their communist party backers are
strongly opposed to foreign involvement in the insurance sector,
saying it would give them control over domestic savings and was
against the national interest.
But Jaitley said his party would be look at the measure as a
way to revive investment in an economy that grew just 4.7
percent last year, its slowest in a decade.
"It is a proposal on the drawing board," he said when asked
whether the party will raise the FDI limit to 49 percent if it
comes to power.
The BJP led by its prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi
is tipped to emerge as the single largest party in the election
and best placed to form a coalition government. The election is
expected to be called for April or May.
Modi is campaigning on a platform of strong government and
reforms to put Asia's third largest economy back on track and
provide jobs to millions of disaffected youth entering the
workforce each month.
Jaitley, however, said his party remained opposed to foreign
direct investment in the retail sector, seen as threat to
millions of grocery stores and traders who form a pillar of
"As far as FDI in retail is concerned, the BJP has genuine
concerns against this, and I do not think it is quite likely
that policy is going to be changed."
Modi earlier this week said small retailers must learn to
work with large modern stores and online companies, suggesting a
softening of stand on the party's opposition to big players in
the retail sector.
(Editing by Sanjeev Miglani and Simon Cameron-Moore)