M A I N   N E W S

FDI storm set to sweep Parliament’s winter session 
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, November 21
The stage appears set for a rocky start to the winter session of Parliament beginning tomorrow, with both the Opposition and the government taking rigid positions on the controversial issue of foreign direct investment (FDI) in multi-brand retail sector.

While the BJP-led Opposition today displayed firmness and unity of purpose in demanding a discussion on the FDI under rules that entailed voting, the government openly voiced its resistance to the move saying it was open to “fruitful debate”.

The way has thus been paved for clashes right at the start of the session, which ends on December 20 after 20 listed sittings.

The day saw near isolation of the Mamata Banerjee-led Trinamool Congress, which plans to move a no-confidence motion against the UPA government in the Lok Sabha.

At a meeting of political party leaders called by Lok Sabha Speaker today to discuss matters for discussion during the session, TMC leader Sudeep Bandopadhyay was the only one to talk of moving the no-trust vote.

After the meeting, NDA convener Sharad Yadav told reporters: “No other party talked about the no-confidence motion except the TMC.”

The consensus evolved around the need to debate the FDI issue under voting rules, with the BJP-led NDA and the Left sticking to the demand of discussion under Rule 184. Both BJP and Left leaders said the government had betrayed the assurance given to Parliament by former Leader of Lok Sabha Pranab Mukherjee who had said no decision on the FDI would be taken unless all stakeholders had been consulted and a
consensus developed.

Leader of Opposition in Lok Sabha Sushma Swaraj said: “We want the House to run but we have one condition - the issue of betrayal of assurance on the FDI be debated under rules that permit voting. The assurance given by Pranab Mukherjee was blatantly disregarded by the government.”

CPI leader in Lok Sabha Gurudas Dasgupta said the government did not appear keen on accepting the Opposition demand and so “Parliament would not function for at least the first few days”.

The Samajwadi Party and the Bahujan Samaj Party, which lend outside support to the government, are still unclear on which rule to cite for debating the FDI - Rule 184 (which entails voting) or 193 (which allows discussions on matters of urgent public importance). Confident of numbers in the Lok Sabha, the government stood its ground with Parliamentary Affairs Minister Kamal Nath insisting that Mukherjee had not given any assurance to the House.






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