FDI vote: Govt confident, oppn adamant

Written by fe Bureau | New Delhi | Updated: Nov 29 2012, 10:02am hrs
Confident of sailing through a parliamentary vote on its decision to allow foreign-controlled supermarkets, the UPA coalition on Wednesday said it is for the presiding officers of both the Houses to decide on whether to put the issue to vote.

While the Left parties and the BJP insist on discussions on the subject under rules that require voting, former UPA ally Trinamool Congress, which made a failed attempt at moving a no-confidence motion against the ruling coalition, said on Wednesday it would not vote in favour of the government.

Parliamentary affairs minister Kamal Nath, along with his deputy Rajiv Shukla, held a meeting with leader of opposition in Lok Sabha Sushma Swaraj and her Rajya Sabha counterpart Arun Jaitley.

Presiding officers can take any decision they want in the interest of running Parliament, Nath said after the meeting. He said numbers were not a worry for the government.

Asked if the government was ready for voting on FDI as the opposition is firm on its stand, Nath said, We are not averse to it. From day one I have said we have the numbers, he said to a question that the government was ready for a vote only after key ally DMK came on board. Earlier, he also met the Lok Sabha Speaker and last evening the Rajya Sabha chairperson.

The meeting with the leaders of the opposition saw BJP insisting on a discussion under a rule that entails voting alleging that the government had committed gross neglect of Parliament by not adhering to its commitment of consulting all stakeholders before taking a decision on FDI in multi-brand retail.

In such a situation, the only way the sense of the House could be gauged was through voting, Swaraj told reporters after the hour-long meeting.

The government will not fall. Only FDI (decision) will have to go. If majority of members are against the decision then the government should abide by it, Swaraj said.

The Trinamool Congress said on Wednesday it would take a stand only after Lok Sabha Speaker Meira Kumar took a decision, but ruled out voting in favour of the government. We shall take a stand only after the Speaker takes a decision and communicates it. Our party will then take a stand. The Trinamool has to oppose FDI. We cannot vote in favour of the government under any circumstances, senior TC leader and former Union minister Saugata Roy, who is now in Delhi, said.

Rashtriya Janata Dal chief Lalu Prasad said there was no reason for NDA to continue to stall Parliament as the UPA coordination committee has approved discussion on FDI and also on voting.

The decision on whether the discussion will held under Rule 184 (entailing voting) or Rule 193 (without voting) is the prerogative of the Speaker, he said.