New Delhi: The Rajya Sabha on Thursday witnessed a combative debate on the UPA government’s decision to allow FDI in the multi-brand retail with the Opposition terming it an ‘anti-people move’.
Leading the anti-UPA brigade, Leader of the Opposition in Rajya Sabha Arun Jaitley today said that the UPA government is a lame duck government since its own allies are opposing the FDI move.
“You are dependent on support. You are a lame-duck government. And this was proved in the Lok Sabha yesterday. When you are 18 short of majority, then you cannot run the government as you please”, he said.
“You cannot touch the 272 mark in Lok Sabha - you will need support and help. And whenever you need help, you have to compromise and pay a huge price.”
Jaitley further created an uproar by saying, “Just because some countries have allowed it, does it mean we will also do it?” to which Commerce Minister Anand Sharma opposed by saying that the government’s stand has been consistent in the WEF.
Jaitley then gave an intriguing reply by saying, “I have no problems with the stand Kamal Nath took as Commerce Minister on FDI, but I have serious problems with the stand Anand Sharma has taken. And yes there is a difference, and I will explain it”.
Driving his point home, Jaitley said that FDI will collapse manufacturing sector and make India a nation of traders.
Jaitley argued that reforms are needed in the manufacturing sector before India can introduce FDI in multi-brand retail, and warned that India will become a nation of ‘sales boys and sales girls’
“The direct impact if you implement this without manufacturing sector reforms, is that what used to be a manufacturing nation will be a nation of traders. We will have stores owned by the Americans, French, and British, selling Chinese products and India will become a nation of sales boys and girls,” he said.
Jaitley added that the crucial difference between Walmart entering India and entering China, was that in China, 95 percent of what it sold was already manufactured in China. “But India can’t follow China, we don’t have the same model. When people start wearing shirts, trousers manufactured outside your country, you know your manufacturing sector will collapse.” he said.
Participating in the FDI debate, Jaitley said, “The government claims that the FDI move will benefit farmers and create jobs but the fact is that it will ruin the small traders and lead to monopolistic tendencies.”
Jaitley also slammed the UPA allies like NCP and the DMK for opposing the Centre outside Parliament but voting in its favour on the issues of national interest.
Earlier, V Maitreyan of the AIADMK, who introduced the FDI motion in the Rajya Sabha, slammed the Prime Minister for taking the UPA decision without consulting the political parties despite promising to do so.
The AIADMK leader also quoted the Prime Minister’s speech opposing FDI in 2004. “Dr Manmohan Singh opposed FDI when he was in opposition, today he is the prime mover”, he said.
The AIADMK leader also slammed the BSP and SP for ‘bailing out’ the government in the Lok Sabha yesterday, and read out an earlier statement by the party that opposed FDI.
Opening the government’s line of defence, Union Law Minister Ashwini Kumar said that farmers will have a lot to rejoice if FDI is brought and it will benefit over 100 crore people.
Unfazed by its criticism, the UPA government made last-ditch effort to secure support of friendly parties like BSP and SP and claimed that it will survive the FDI vote in Rajya Sabha.
A voting on the FDI issue will be held on Friday. Meanwhile, the Lok Sabha was today adjourned till 2pm following uproar over Babri mosque demolition issue.
Earlier this morning, UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi met senior Congress leaders and party MPs to chalk out a strategy for saving the UPA government during the crucial debate and voting in Rajya Sabha. As per reports, the meeting took place at Sonia Gandhi’s 10, Janpath residence, which was attended by all top party leaders.
The Congress-led UPA government yesterday survived its big winter test in the Lok Sabha with the support from ‘friendly parties’ like SP and the BSP and defeated the Opposition-backed motion over FDI in multi-brand retail.
Winning the FDI vote in the Upper House will not be easy for the ruling coalition since it lacks majority here. Both SP and the BSP, which give external support to the UPA government, on Wednesday staged a walk out before the actual vote after putting discerning views on centre’s FDI move.
Of the total 245 members in the Rajya Sabha, the UPA has a strength of 90. With 27 outside supporters from the BSP, SP, Lok Janshakti Party and the Rashtriya Janata Dal, the government tally stands at 117 well short of the required 123 figure for majority. The opposition claims the support of 110 members. Besides, there are seven independents, five from smaller parties and 10 nominated.
During the voting in the Lok Sabha on Wednesday, 471 of the Lok Sabha`s 545 members voted; 253 MPs voted against the BJP motion that challenged the policy and 218 voted for it.
The majority mark was brought down from 273 to 251 by the BSP and the SP walking out to help the government.
With Agency Inputs