M A I N   N E W S

FDI logjam is over, Speaker allows vote 
Debate in LS on Dec 4, 5 SP may walk out
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, November 29
The four-day logjam in Parliament ended today after the UPA government conceded the Opposition demand to debate the policy on FDI in multi-brand retail in both Houses under rules that entail voting.

The debate in the Lok Sabha has been slated for December 4 and 5 under Rule 184, as demanded by the Opposition. A similar discussion will be held in the Rajya Sabha next week, but the dates are yet to be finalised.

While the government is expected to survive the vote in the Lok Sabha, its parliamentary managers will have to work overtime to muster the numbers in the Upper House where the ruling combine is in a minority.

The differences between the government and the Opposition were resolved at a meeting between Parliamentary Affairs Minister Kamal Nath, Lok Sabha leader Sushil Kumar Shinde, Leader of Opposition Sushma Swaraj and Lok Sabha Speaker Meira Kumar. The government gave in to the Opposition after it got an assurance from its key ally, the DMK, that it would back the ruling combine.

The Samajwadi Party (SP) and the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP), which extend critical outside support to government, also gave a similar assurance. The two parties are expected to stage a walk-out, bringing down the total strength of the House, ensuring a comfortable win for the government.

However, the SP leader Ram Gopal Yadav declared that his party’s nine MPs will vote against the FDI policy in the Rajya Sabha. The government’s crisis managers were in touch with SP leaders till late evening to enlist their support.

The SP essentially wants to thwart the passage of the pending Bill providing reservations in promotions for SC/ST government officers which is being pushed by its political opponent, BSP chief Mayawati. The government is caught in a bind here as it cannot afford to alienate the BSP, which is also extending it outside support.

Given the government’s strength in the Rajya Sabha (95 in a 244-member House) and these complications, Kamal Nath had suggested to BJP leaders Sushma Swaraj and Arun Jaitley in his meeting with them yesterday that the vote be restricted to the Lok Sabha while the debate in the Upper House be held under rules with no voting provision.

The Opposition leaders took strong objection to this proposal at a meeting of leaders of all parties convened by Rajya Sabha chairman Hamid Ansari. BJP and Left leaders pointed out that a different yardstick could not be applied to the two Houses as it amounted to a devaluation of the Upper House. The government left the final decision to Hamid Ansari, who decided the debate be held under rules entailing a vote. 

How the numbers stack up

  • The UPA is well short of the half-way mark of 123 in the Rajya Sabha
  • It is in touch with 10 nominated members, 15 BSP and Independent MPs
  • The UPA is comfortably placed in the Lok Sabha where it has a strength of 265 MPs in the 545-member House
  • 0This number goes up to 300 with the support of SP (22) and BSP (21)
  • The half-way mark of 273 would come down if these two parties abstain from voting





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