As fissures developed in the Opposition ranks on Monday over the rules on which to have a discussion on FDI in retail in the Lok Sabha, the government appeared to have managed to secure the BSP’s support. The Mayawati-led party was reportedly brought on board after the Bill on SC/ST reservations in promotions was listed for discussion in the Rajya Sabha.
While the Samajwadi Party, the other key player, held back its support, it may abstain in case of a discussion under Rule 184, which entails voting. Sources said they have been given a tacit assurance that mere listing of the SC/ST Bill in the Upper House did not amount to actually holding a discussion on it.
Its hands strengthened, the government worked towards isolating the BJP at the all-party meeting on Monday as the only party holding up Parliament for a Rule 184 discussion on FDI in retail. Its strategy continues to be centred on allowing a discussion under Rule 193, which does not entail voting.
Leader of Opposition in the Lok Sabha Sushma Swaraj, however, said there would not be any compromise on the BJP’s stand on discussion under Rule 184. She said NDA constituents and the TDP, BJD and AIADMK, along with the Left parties, had pressed at the all-party meeting for a discussion under rules that entail voting.
A division was seen in the Opposition camp on Monday with the Trinamool Congress breaking ranks and stating at the meeting that the decision should be left to the Speaker’s discretion. Explaining the party’s stand, TMC leader Sudip Bandopadhyay said: “The best was to have voting on the no-confidence motion (moved by the party). This would have obviated the need to go with a begging bowl seeking support for discussions under 184. It should be left to the Speaker to decide under what rule it takes place.”
Taking an independent line, the BJD has already given notice for a discussion under both Rules 184 and 193. BJD MP B Mahtab told The Indian Express, “We have given notice under both 184 and 193, but I don’t see why the government should not agree to a discussion under 184. We are against FDI in multi-brand retail.”
What was reassuring for the government was that both the SP and BSP were on the same page at Monday’s meeting. The Bill providing for SC/ST reservation in promotions in government jobs — which the BSP backs and