UPA all set to win FDI vote in Rajya Sabha
New Delhi: With Mayawati-led Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) assuring full support to the Congress-led ruling coalition on the FDI issue, the UPA government is all set to comfortably win a vote on the same in the Rajya Sabha on Friday.
The BSP’s support has given the UPA government more numbers required to win the FDI battle in the Upper House, where it lacked a majority.
The UPA government now hopes that with BSP's 15 members now in its kitty, it would be able to persuade Samajwadi Party, with nine MPs, to abstain from voting - as it did in the Lok Sabha on Wednesday.
Interestingly, the powerful regional parties prop the UPA from outside.
Ending suspense on her party’s stand on the FDI issue, BSP chief Mayawati on Thursday assured the government that it will get her party’s support when the House votes on FDI in multi-brand retail.
Meanwhile, Samajwadi Party leader Ram Gopal Yadav said they will walkout from the Rajya Sabha during the vote on FDI.
For the UPA, which lacked majority in the Rajya Sabha, the announcements from the two parties came as a major boost.
The government on Wednesday won the vote on allowing 51 percent foreign direct investment in multi-brand retail in the Lok Sabha after the BSP and SP walked out just ahead of the voting.
Speaking on the debate in the Rajya Sabha, BSP chief Mayawati said: "We will support the government." bringing much relief to the Congress, which had been involved in hectic back channel negotiations to muster the numbers.
Union Law Minister Ashwani Kumar, making a strong case for FDI, said it was a "national imperative". "There are moments in the life of a nation when certain decisions have to be taken at a particular period of time. We should rise above partisan politics. This policy will determine the future of India."
The Opposition led a strong attack on the Manmohan Singh-led government's move to usher in economic reforms by allowing foreign multi nationals like Wal-Mart and Tesco.
BJP leader and Leader of Opposition in the Rajya Sabha Arun Jaitley said bringing in FDI would create "sales boys and sales girls". Hitting out against the UPA's Lok Sabha win, he said the figure of 253 "can't be seen as a win. When you are 18 short of majority, you cannot run the government as you please. After that Lok Sabha figure, you are a lame duck government."
In the 244-member House, the halfway mark is 123. The UPA’s strength is 89. With the BSP's 15 members, its numbers will climb to 104. With the support of smaller parties, including Rashtriya Janata Dal, it will get six more votes, taking the tally to 110.
If the SP with its nine members walks out, or abstains from voting, as announced, the strength of members present and voting in the House will come down to 235. The halfway mark will then be 118.
On the other hand, the BJP and its main allies including Janata Dal-United, together have 65 votes. With the Left's 14 members, and the Trinamool Congress' nine siding with it, the number will total 88.
Other parties against FDI include: Biju Janata Dal (7), Asom Gana Parishad (2), AIADMK (5), and Telugu Desam Party (5), which together take the opposition tally to 107 -- just three short of the government tally of 110.
Of the 10 nominated members, three including cricketer Sachin Tendulkar, may not be present due to personal reasons. If the remaining seven go with the government, the UPA tally will be 121, just two short of the half-way mark.
The Rajya Sabha saw eight hours of intense debate, with the DMK and NCP clearly spelling out their support for the government, though the southern party made it clear that it was against bringing in multi nationals into the country.
Denying there was an understanding with the BSP on the FDI in retail issue in Parliament, Parliamentary Affairs Minister Kamal Nath said, "There was no deal between her (Mayawati) and the government."
The motion in the Rajya Sabha is being debated under rules 167-168, which entail voting.