Sometime in the course of the past few noisy days in Parliament, senior Congress leader Karan Singh quietly conveyed his decision to step down from the Rajya Sabha Ethics Committee. His resignation letter, ending his eight-year stint, stated that it should be considered effective only from December 1. None of this would be that significant had it not been for the fact that Mulayam Singh Yadavís brother Ram Gopal Yadav is tipped to take over from Singh on December 2.
For starters, the SP leader would get a big room in Parliament. But more importantly, it would lend some stature to the partyís overall profile. At least that is what the Congress hopes as it looks to broker a way out of the imbroglio over the Bill on SC/ST reservations in promotions in the Rajya Sabha. Believe it or not, resolving this issue in the Upper House holds key to ending the stalemate over FDI in retail in the Lok Sabha.
The SP is learnt to have conveyed to the Congress that it cannot count on its vote or it abstaining in case of a debate under Rule 184 on FDI in the LS if the Bill on reservations is passed in the RS. The BSP is on the other side of the divide, except that it has neither conveyed a threat nor given a firm assurance of support. Chances are that if a debate were to happen on the Bill, the BSP will side on FDI in retail with the Congress.
The SP should ideally not have a problem with allowing a discussion on the reservations Bill because it seeks a constitutional amendment, which requires a formidable two-thirds majority to be cleared. However, the SP feels that on this issue no party will want to be seen opposing the Bill on the floor of the House and hence, letting a discussion happen could be a risky affair.
The Congress is looking for a way by which it can retain the support of both parties, which could range from convincing the BSP to limit itself to grandstanding and reap consequent benefits to prodding the SP with some slight give-and-take to accept a discussion.
If itís able to achieve this, a 184 or a 193 discussion on FDI in retail would be immaterial.
Pranab is deputy editor based in Delhi