Suspense prevails ahead of FDI vote in LS

A day after a fierce debate in Lok Sabha on the UPA government`s decision to allow foreign direct investment or FDI in multi-brand retail, Centre’s major reform policy will be put to vote on Wednesday.

Zeenews Bureau

New Delhi: Even as the UPA government made an all-out effort to woo friendly parties to elicit their support to foreign direct investment in the multi-brand retail during the vote in the Lok Sabha on Wednesday, suspense still prevailed whether Samajwadi Party (SP) and Bahujan Samaj Party’s will rescue the Congress government.

Adding to suspense, the Samajwadi Party (SP) today said that it was against the move but would not do anything to "trouble the UPA government".

On its part, the government also said that it was get support from the like-minded parties.

"We are in touch with all (parties). We have requested them to support us. FDI will not hurt the interests of farmers or small traders. In fact it will help them," Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs Rajiv Shulka told reporters outside Parliament House.

Coinciding with the government’s claim, some consolation came from the SP that props the ruling United Progressive Alliance from outside.

"Netaji (SP chief Mulayam Singh Yadav) has already made his position clear on the issue - that he is against FDI. Today, after the reply of the government, the Samajwadi Party will decide what to do at the time of the voting. We will not do anything to trouble the government," SP leader Ram Gopal Yadav said.

Information and Broadcasting Minister Manish Tewari was also seen questioning the intent of the opposition.
If the opposition wanted to "persuade" the government to roll back FDI, Tewari asked, then why did it go for a debate under Rule 184, which entails voting, instead of Rule 193 that states how a member would submit in writing his request for a discussion on a matter of urgent public importance.

His remarks come hours before Lok Sabha is to take up voting on a motion moved by opposition parties against government`s decision allowing 51 per cent FDI in multi-brand retail.

While both SP and BSP had opposed FDI yesterday during a debate on the issue, they have still not made it clear whether they will support the motion.

BJP leader Sushma Swaraj had asked the two parties to support the motion, saying their fears that the government could fall were unfounded.

The crucial voting on the FDI issue will be held at 5pm this evening.

The UPA government is now counting on the support of Mulayam Singh Yadav-led Samajwadi Party (SP) and Mayawati’s (BSP), which provide external support to the Congress government.

The SP chief, who spoke against the UPA government and opposed its decision to allow FDI in the multi-brand retail, he is likely to bailout the government by either abstaining from vote or staging a walkout.

Participating in the crucial debate, Mulayam Singh Yadav said that his party is opposed to FDI as it will hurt the interests of Indian farmers. Although, the SP chief made his intentions clear, the UPA crisis managers are counting on him amidst hope that his party will not vote against the centre.

Meanwhile, BSP chief Mayawati has also likened her party’s support to UPA government on the FDI issue to the passing of a bill that provides reservation for scheduled castes and tribes in promotions for government jobs.
The BSP leadership has repeatedly put pressure on the Congress government to pass the quota bill first, and consequently the government had duly listed it in the Rajya Sabha today.

In case of an agreement between Congress and Mayawati`s party, the BSP MPs could abstain or even vote in favour of the UPA government.

An indication in this regard came when Mayawati yesterday said that keeping "communal forces" at bay was her top priority, hinting that she would not vote on the same side as the BJP.

"We will decide about voting on the floor of the House as we don`t want to stand by communal parties," Mayawati said.

If the BSP and SP both abstain in the 545-seat Lok Sabha, the majority mark will come down from 273 to 251.

The Congress and its UPA allies have 261 MPs. Anti-FDI MPs add up to 219. The motion will be put to vote in the Lok Sabha today.

The Rajya Sabha will begin debating the issue on Thursday and will vote on Friday. 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 as against the magical 123 figure for majority.

The opposition claims the support of 110 members. Besides, there are seven independents, five from smaller parties and 10 nominated.

Meanwhile, the Rajya Sabha was earlier adjourned till noon and then for the day after BSP members noisily demanded a memorial for Dr Bhimrao Ambedkar in Mumbai.

With Agency Inputs

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