Banerjee, who had got the bill deferred earlier by stressing the need for wider consultations, refused to relent. Her nominee in the Cabinet, railway minister Mukul Roy, wrote to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and finance minister Pranab Mukherjee, repeating the argument that the Pension Fund Regulatory and Development Bill, 2011, should not be passed until there was a “broad-based consensus” for it.
She said, “We cannot allow a bill that goes against the interests of the people. It is aimed at throwing open the pension fund to private players and foreign investment. We are committed to the people and cannot allow post-retirement life of employees to become uncertain. If the bill is passed, the future of millions will be under severe threat. That is what is feared if hard-earned money of employees is thrown open to the market.” She further added, “The TMC is committed to the common people and will not allow anything that goes against their interests. I have come to know that interests of employees were compromised during the UPA-I regime. We won’t allow that once again.” She was referring to the period when the Left had a say in decision-making.
Not willing to take a chance, Banerjee deputed Roy, who had skipped the meeting of infrastructure ministries, to attend the Cabinet meeting to drive home her point in case the PM had decided to press ahead with his desire to clear the legislation for parliamentary approval in the monsoon session. Banerjee’s latest veto should sting even more due to its timing. She chose to wield it just when the Centre was trying to beat back the impression of inaction and drift, with the CWC goading it to get its act together.