The Congress leadership has started rethinking on the Opposition’s demand for a vote in both the Houses of Parliament on foreign direct investment in retail. With the DMK patriarch M. Karunanidhi announcing his party’s support for the United Progressive Alliance in the event of voting, the Congress believes that the debate will bring no harm to the party politically.

After a meeting of the UPA leaders here on Tuesday, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said that the Government was confident of its numbers. His statement is seen as an indication that the Government is willing to think over the Opposition’s demand for a vote.

Parliamentary Affairs Minister Kamal Nath said the decision on the Rule under which the debate should take place, will be taken by Speaker Meira Kumar.

Sources said in the next meeting of the Business Advisory Committees of both the Rajya Sabha and Lok Sabha, the Government will reiterate its stand against voting on a policy decision. The Opposition, however, is adamant that it will not let the House function unless the FDI decision is put to vote. In an effort to buy peace, if the Speaker decides to go with Rule 184 for the debate, the Government may not oppose voting.

Wording of motion

The House, however, is unlikely to function smoothly this week as the Government needs time to discuss the “wording” of the motion.

A section of the Opposition has already indicated its willingness to cooperate with the Government on the format of the motion.

The Leader of the Lok Sabha, Sushil Kumar Shinde, said everything will be settled by Monday.

The Government will work to ensure the support of the SP and BSP in the Rajya Sabha. The Government will not be able to muster majority in the Upper House unless the two parties decide to support the Government.

Vote Inevitable

The CPI (M) has demanded that the Centre table the amended Rules of the Foreign Exchange Management (FEMA) Act immediately in both the Houses. CPI (M) leader Sitaram Yechury said though the Reserve Bank of India notified the amendments on October 30, the Government is yet to place it for Parliament’s approval.

The Rules were amended as the Supreme Court said the Government can implement FDI in retail only after amending the FEMA Rules.

Yechury said the Left parties will demand annulment of the amendments in the Rules. “Government cannot escape from bringing the amended Rules to Parliament. So vote on FDI retail is inevitable,” he said.

(This article was published on November 27, 2012)
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