M A I N   N E W S

All-party meet fails to end FDI logjam
Opposition insists on debate that entails voting
Aditi Tandon/TNS

New Delhi, November 26
Parliament appears set for another season of washout after the Government and the Opposition today failed to agree on rules for debating the controversial executive decision permitting 51 per cent Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) in multi-brand retail sector in the country.

The all-party meeting held to find a way out of the parliamentary deadlock that entered its third consecutive day today failed to forge a consensus on the matter with the Opposition NDA, Left, AIADMK and BJD sticking to their demand for debating FDI under rules that entail voting and the Government refusing to oblige.

“We appeal to the Opposition to reconsider their demand and leave the decision on rules for debating the FDI to the presiding officers in both the Houses,” Parliamentary Affairs Minister Kamal Nath said after the two-and-a-half hour meeting.

But the Opposition was in no mood to budge from its position. Leader of Opposition in Lok Sabha Sushma Swaraj dismissed Kamal Nath's appeal saying, “We won’t agree to anything short of a debate under voting rules -- 184 -- in the Lok Sabha and 167 in the Rajya Sabha. The ball is now in the Government’s court."

Lack of consensus on the matter came on a day when both Houses were adjourned again until tomorrow following ruckus over FDI. No business could be transacted.

The NDA-Left-BJD-AIADMK combine is seeking a debate under voting rules on grounds that the Government earlier disregarded the assurance former Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee gave to the Parliament last winter session. Mukherjee had said retail FDI would be kept in abeyance until a consensus had been reached with states and political parties. “At that time, we had debated the issue under non-voting rules. But all we got was a broken assurance," CPM’s Sitaram Yechury said.

Against the Opposition's demand, the Government is taking refuge behind SP, BSP and TMC which are not insisting on a vote on FDI. At the meeting today, SP’s Ram Gopal Yadav, BSP chief Mayawati and TMC leader Sudeep Bandopadhyay said they would leave the decision to decide the rule for FDI debate to LS Speaker and Rajya Sabha chairman. DMK demanded further consultations but was silent on the rules.

The Government is wary that if it agreed to a vote on FDI, the SP, BSP and TMC might abstain. Finance Minister P Chidambaram is learnt to have dismissed the voting demand at today’s meeting, saying a division following a vote on FDI would send the wrong signal.


  • Parliamentary Affairs Minister Kamal Nath: The decision on which rule to use to debate retail FDI should be left to the Presiding Officers. Not all parties want a vote
  • BJP’s Sushma Swaraj: Won’t agree to anything except a debate on retail FDI under Rule 184 in LS and 167 in RS, which entail voting
  • TMC’s Sudeep Bandopadhyay: We brought a no-confidence motion, but no one supported us. Now the Govt is not agreeing to the Opposition demand for a vote for which the latter is begging. Let the Presiding Officers decide. If someone brings a no-confidence motion, we will still support
  • Left: The Govt is too rigid. Must accept to debate retail FDI under voting rules
  • SP, BSP, RJD: Presiding Officers should decide on rules





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