New Delhi: BJP on Thursday raked up the issue of FDI and insisted on discussion in Parliament under a rule that entails voting, apparently wary of raising the corruption issue as its President Nitin Gadkari is facing charges of dubious funding of his Purti Group.
The party cited a bigger Opposition unity on the FDI in retail issue as the reason for its preference to the matter over supporting the no-confidence motion that was moved by the Trinamool Congress.
"In our BJP and later the NDA meeting, it was decided that we would raise the demand for discussion on FDI in retail issue under Rule 184 in the Lok Sabha and similar provisions in the Rajya Sabha which entail voting. Government has shown disrespect to Parliament by not agreeing to a debate under this rule," BJP spokesperson Shahnawaz Hussain said.
The UPA government is of the view that since the FDI decision was taken through an Executive Order, there is no need for voting in Parliament on the matter.
Leader of Opposition in Lok Sabha Sushma Swaraj had given a notice under Rule 184 while her Rajya Sabha counterpart Arun Jaitley gave a similar notice under Rule 167.
Opposition unity may be one factor but others pointed out that the FDI in retail issue has also helped BJP keep the corruption issue at bay as it would also hurt the main Opposition with its president facing allegations.
BJP sources said Swaraj and other senior leaders felt FDI should be given preference over other issues as most Opposition parties were on board for voting on it. The party also felt this would force UPA ally DMK and supporting party SP- which have openly come out against FDI- to take a stand in Parliament.
Hussain said though BJP has been clear from the beginning that the UPA government should be thrown out, Trinamool chief Mamta Banerjee did not get in touch with it or with parties like AIADMK- which are opposed to FDI- to solicit support for its no-confidence motion.
BJP clarified that only Trinamool leader Kalyan Banerjee had reached out to the party on the no-confidence issue and not Mamata. On Thursday morning Sudip Bandopadhyaya also met Swaraj on the same issue but the party had made up its mind.
The party denied earlier reports that Mamata had contacted Swaraj to get BJP support.
Hussain said BJP also wanted to expose parties like SP whose chief Mulayam Singh Yadav had taken part in street protests on the FDI issue but is now keeping everybody guessing on whether it wants voting in Parliament on it.
"After withdrawal of support by TMC, the UPA government has lost its majority and goes into a sweat whenever it comes to voting in Parliament... But since other parties were not on board on the no-confidence motion we did not want to bail out this government on the issue. We preferred the FDI issue on which Opposition is united," Hussain said.
BJP further maintained that though its top leaders- Advani, Swaraj and Jaitley- will attend the Prime Minister`s dinner, their stand on discussion and voting on FDI will not change. The party also said it will be firm on this stand even at the all-party meeting called by the government on Monday.
BJP pointed out that when the NDA was in power it had agreed for discussion and voting on two crucial issues but the UPA is running away from it.
"On the BALCO issue we had agreed to a discussion under Rule 184. Even on the issue of who should be in the Cabinet the NDA had agreed to a discussion under the same rule," Hussain said.
He was referring to a discussion and voting on Opposition demand during NDA rule that L K Advani, Murli Manohar Joshi and Uma Bharti should not continue as ministers as they were facing charges in the Babri mosque demolition.