Opposition, allies slam FDI; government confident of winning vote

Ahead of Wednesday’s crucial vote on FDI in retail in the Lok Sabha, government on Tuesday said there was no cause for worry and everything would be clear by the penultimate evening.

Zeenews Bureau

New Delhi: Ahead of Wednesday’s crucial vote on FDI in retail in the Lok Sabha, government on Tuesday said there was no cause for worry and everything would be clear by the penultimate evening.

"Let`s not worry at all. Tomorrow (Wednesday) 6 o`clock, everything will be clear and we will get the result," Leader of Lok Sabha and Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde told reporters here.

As Parliament on Tuesday began discussing FDI in retail under a rule entailing voting, Congress did not hide its displeasure over the "unhealthy precedent" that an executive decision has been put up for legislative vote.

Earlier in the day, during a fiery debate on the UPA government’s decision to allow FDI in the multi-brand retail, Leader of Opposition in Lok Sabha Sushma Swaraj slammed the Centre for taking the decision unilaterally.

Attempting to corner the government in Lok Sabha, Swaraj said, “Despite assurances from President Pranab Mukherjee, the then Finance Minister, the government did not even attempt to bring consensus on FDI in retail. No political party was contacted before taking a decision."

She said, "Farmers are forced to throw their potatoes away while McDonald`s imports the potatoes it uses," and ended her fiery argument, replete with political jibes at the Congress and its top leadership, by saying, "we don`t want to win by defeating you, we want to win by convincing you."

Opposition helping middlemen by objecting to FDI: Sibal

Reacting sharply, Congress accused Opposition of trying to score political points by objecting to FDI in retail and asserted that the decision would benefit farmers, small scale industries, youth and consumers in the country.

Articulating the party`s position during debate on the issue in Lok Sabha, Telecom Minister Kapil Sibal also charged BJP and Left parties with ignoring "ground reality" and helping commission agents.

He said commission agents are the real beneficiaries in the present system and farmers get only 15 to 17 per cent amount for their produce.

"They (Opposition) have to understand whether they are with the middlemen.... You are with the middlemen," Sibal said amid vociferous protests by Opposition.

In a scathing attack, Sibal said BJP in its 2004 manifesto had announced 26 per cent FDI in the country.

SP, BSP slam govt on FDI policy

Samajwadi Party and Bahujan Samaj Party both joined the Opposition on Tuesday in slamming the government over FDI in retail but remaining ambivalent on voting Wednesday even as UPA ally DMK vowed not to rock the boat despite its Opposition to the move.

SP chief Mulayam Singh Yadav cautioned the Congress that the FDI decision would hurt its poll prospects and benefit the BJP, as he and BSP leader Dara Singh Chauhan counselled the government not to rush with its implementation.

However, UPA will require support of both the parties in Wednesday’s voting on FDI.

The government has been wooing Mulayam Singh Yadav, who has 22 MPs in the lower house, to vote in favour of the UPA. He has always opposed FDI in retail, but said he was against "communal forces" coming to power.

The government wants both the SP and the BSP, with 21 MPs, to vote in favour or abstain when the motion is put to vote Wednesday. In case it loses, the government will not fall but will an face embarrassment.

The government has always been maintaining it "has the numbers" to support it in parliament.

The all-round criticism of the economic policy came on a day the Election Commission censured the government for announcing its "game changer" direct cash transfer scheme.

The poll panel asked it to defer its implementation in poll bound states of Himachal Pradesh and Gujarat.

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