Smooth sailing for govt on retail FDI vote in Rajya Sabha

Dec 07 2012, 22:01 IST
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Smooth sailing for govt on retail FDI vote in Rajya Sabha (PTI) Smooth sailing for govt on retail FDI vote in Rajya Sabha (PTI)
SummaryUPA won a hugely symbolic and significant vote in favour of the decision in the Rajya Sabha.

Congress and the BJD. The final tally could, however, change as the numbers did not add up. The government has sought a recalculation of votes.

According to the final tally which is subject to correction, 232 votes were cast. On the other hand, 17 members - including nine SP members who walked out - were absent. This takes the total number to 249, while the present strength of the house is 244.

Apart from the TDP members, JD(U)’s Bashistha Narain Singh, Congress’ Murli Deora, expelled BJD leader Pyarimohan Mohapatra and nominated member Sachin Tendulkar were also absent. While Singh had taken permission to stay away because of a wedding in his family, Deora is unwell.

Before the voting, the house witnessed opposition and treasury benches clashing several times. It plunged into turmoil and had to be adjourned after Sharma said a Planning Commission report prepared in 2002 by a committee headed by N K Singh - now a JD(U) MP - had recommended FDI in the retail sector.

Singh countered him, but with Sharma not yielding, the entire opposition came to his support. NDA members led by leader of the opposition Arun Jaitley demanded an apology from Sharma for “misleading” the house, resulting in the disruption.

Sharma led a spirited defence of the government move saying the government would never take any decision under “Western influence or any influence”. “We will uphold and secure the supreme national interest of the people of India,” he said. He rejected the opposition argument that FDI in multi-brand retail will be disastrous for small traders and hurt farmers.

Sharma accused the opposition of creating a scare and rejected Jaitley’s contention that the measure will lead to India becoming a nation of salesboys and salesgirls. “You have scared foreign investors who want to visit India,” he said.

In his reply, Maitreyan said a majority of the 32 members who participated in the debate were opposed to FDI in multi-brand retail and argued it was unfortunate that voting was not on the merits of the issue but other considerations. He reiterated that the next government would reverse the decision.

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