Opposition move to amend FEMA too defeated

Video: Sushma blames Mulayam for avoiding FDI vote
Video: FDI will not abolish but create new middlemen: Gurudas Dasgupta

With the Samajwadi Party and the Bahujan Samaj Party walking out of Lok Sabha ahead of the crucial voting, the Government defeated the Opposition’s motions against FDI in the organised retail sector.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said the Government’s decision to bring FDI in the multi-brand retail sector has the approval of Parliament.

The Lok Sabha also defeated a statutory motion moved by Trinamool Congress MP Saugata Roy to amend the Foreign Exchange Management Act.

In the Rajya Sabha, too, the Government expects that the SP and the BSP will not vote in favour of the Opposition’s motion against FDI in multi-brand retail. The Rajya Sabha will start debating the issue on Thursday. The voting in the Upper House will take place on Friday.

What worries the Government is that in the event of abstention by SP and BSP in the Rajya Sabha, it will be a neck-and-neck numbers game.

The Government is trying its best to convince the SP and BSP to vote in its favour. UPA Chairperson Sonia Gandhi said the alliance is not bothered about the voting in the Rajya Sabha.

Parties oppose FDI

The debate in the House, however, made it clear that majority of the members are opposed to the decision to bring FDI in multi-brand retail. As the Opposition leader Sushma Swraj pointed out in the Lok Sabha, of the 18 parties that spoke, 14 were against the Government decision.

Apart from the Congress, UPA allies Nationalist Congress Party, Rashtriya Lok Dal and the Rashtriya Janata Dal supported the Government, while the DMK, SP and BSP leaders said they were against the Government’s move.

While walking out, the leaders of SP and BSP — Mulayam Singh Yadav and Dara Singh Chauhan — said the Government has compromised the interests of farmers and workers. They said they are unhappy with the explanation of Commerce Minister Anand Sharma on the issues raised by various parties.

In a House of 545 members, the Government got the support of 253 MPs. The Opposition’s motion, moved by Sushma Swaraj and CPI(M) MP Khagen Das, got the support of 218 members. Four-hundred and seventy-one members participated in the voting.

Heated Debate

Earlier, the House debated the issue with a variety of arguments for and against FDI in retail. The Commerce Minister, who also participated in the debate, said the Foreign Investment Promotional Board will scrutinise every proposal to start retail outlets by multinational companies.

He said the Government had consulted State Governments, political parties, farmers’ organisations and industry representatives before implementing the decision.

BJP leader Murli Manohar Joshi said small farmers and corporate farming cannot co-exist. He said even though the Government “manages” a majority in the Lok Sabha, farmers, workers and small retailers will defeat the Government’s decision through protests. “We want retail democracy, not retail dictatorship,” he said.

Replying to the debate on the motion moved by her, Sushma Swaraj said FDI in retail would not have sailed through if SP had voted. She said the debate was not on any communal-secular issues but was on the livelihood of some 30-crore people. She urged the Prime Minister to reconsider the decision keeping in mind the general sentiments of the House.

The Opposition dubbed the government’s victory on FDI vote in Lok Sabha as a “moral defeat” alleging the ruling dispensation managed the numbers by using CBI to pressurise political parties.

PTI reports: Talking to newspersons after the vote, Sushma Swaraj said besides Congress, the role of SP and BSP has also been “exposed.” CPI leader Gurudas Dasgupta said the “defeat” of the Government in the Lok Sabha is “clear.”

jigeesh.am@thehindu.co.in

(This article was published on December 5, 2012)
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