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UPA confident over FDI vote, says Shukla

Though the government is confident of sailing through in the lower house, it does not have the numbers in the upper house.

New Delhi: The government on Sunday said it was confident of its numbers ahead of a crucial debate with voting on FDI in multi-brand retail in the Lok Sabha Dec 4-5.

"We are confident of the numbers," Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs Rajeev Shukla told a news agency.

A debate with voting on the issue will take place in the Lok Sabha Dec 4 and 5 and later in the Rajya Sabha, said government sources.

Though the government is confident of sailing through in the lower house, it does not have the numbers in the upper house.

"We are talking to other parties to support us in both the houses," Shukla told the news agency.

The role of the Samajwadi Party (SP) and the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP), which support the United Progressive Alliance government from outside, would be crucial here, said sources.

Samajwadi Party leader Ram Gopal Yadav surprised everyone last week by saying the party would oppose foreign direct investment (FDI) in multi-brand retail in the Rajya Sabha.

"If there is a vote on FDI in Rajya Sabha, we will vote against it. We will not let it pass," Yadav said.

Government sources expressed hope they would be able to persuade the SP, which is furious over what it feels is the UPA`s support for reservation for dalits and tribals in job promotions -- an idea backed by the SP`s archrival BSP.

In the Rajya Sabha, of the total 245 members, the UPA claims the strength of 90 members with 27 outside supporters from the BSP, SP, Lok Janshakti Party and the Rashtriya Janata Dal, making the government tally 117.

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

While the debate in the Lok Sabha will be held under Rule 184, in the Rajya Sabha it will be held under Rule 168, both entailing vote.

The BJP and the CPI-M had submitted separate notices for a debate with voting provision.

The CPI-M also wants a vote on amendments to the Foreign Exchange Management Act, tabled in the Lok Sabha Friday, as these are needed to facilitate FDI in retail.

Both houses of Parliament have seen repeated disruptions since the Winter Session began Nov 22.


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