M A I N   N E W S

Govt wins RS vote on retail FDI
* Maya, Mulayam again save the day for UPA * BSP votes in favour; SP walks out
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, December 7
The Bahujan Samaj Party and the Samajwadi Party came to the rescue of the UPA government in Parliament yet again, as it secured the approval of the Rajya Sabha for its controversial decision to permit FDI in multi-brand retail today.

While 15 BSP members voted with the treasury benches, nine SP members walked out of the House just before Chairman Hamid Ansari put to vote the motion moved by AIADMK member V Maitreyan, opposing the government decision to allow the FDI. After a two-day acrimonious debate, the motion fell with 123 members voting against it and 102 in favour. One member abstained.

The decks have now been cleared for global retail players like Walmart, Carrefour and Tesco to set up stores in India with the consent of the state governments.

The victory in the Upper House came two days after the Lok Sabha defeated a similar motion. Both the SP and the BSP had walked out of the Lower House to help the government sail through during voting over the issue.

The BSP knew that this tactic would not work in the government’s favour in the Upper House and, therefore, its leader Mayawati announced yesterday that her party would vote along with the treasury benches.

The UPA has 94 members in the Upper House and lacks a majority of its own, the effective strength of the House being 244. Two ailing members Janardhan Reddy (Congress) and Janardhan Wagmare (NCP) were brought to the House on stretchers to cast their vote from the Rajya Sabha gallery. Sachin Tendulkar, nominated member who is playing Test match in Kolkata, Murli Deora (Congress), who is unwell, rebel BJD leader Pyari Mohan Mahapatra and Janata Dal (United) member Vashisht Narayan Singh were absent at the time of voting. Three TDP members, including the party’s leader, deputy leader and chief whip, were also absent.

The defeat of the motion is being seen as a victory for the UPA managers, especially Parliamentary Affairs Minister Kamal Nath, who were busy both inside the House and outside talking to leaders of different supporting parties until the last minute to manage the game of numbers.

A defeat in the Upper House would have embarrassed the government and put a big question mark over its economic reforms agenda. Replying to the debate, Commerce Minister Anand Sharma dismissed the charge of the Opposition BJP that the government had permitted the FDI in retail under pressure from the West. “We have taken the decision as a sovereign nation in supreme national interest,” he asserted.

With the Prime Minister seated by his side, Sharma questioned the opposition of the BJP to the FDI, saying when the party was in power, it had plans to allow the FDI in retail up to the extent of 100 per cent, which was countered vociferously by BJP members.





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