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Govt close to resolving the FDI logjam in Parliament?

November 26, 2012 23:34 IST

The government engineered a victory of sorts when it succeeded in neutralising the Samajwadi party, the Bahujan Samajwadi Party, the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam and the Trinamool Congress in stacking up the numbers on the FDI issue, says Renu Mittal.

In the all-party meeting convened by the government, these parties made it clear that they wanted a discussion on the FDI issue and were not particular whether it was under a voting provision like 184 or just under 193, which entails no voting. These parties said the decision should be left to the speaker and all parties should agree to what the speaker decides, with the Congress later adding their bit by saying that the decision of the speaker would be acceptable to them.

The Bharatiya Janata Party-led national Democratic Alliance group however continued to insist that Parliament would not be allowed to run till the government agrees to a discussion under 184 and the house votes on it. The government, while reiterating that it has the numbers, has said they do not want to set a precedent where executive decisions are voted by the Parliament since in future the opposition may want various issues to be voted on which is not required.

As matters stand now, the government is clear it will not discuss FDI under Rule 184, simply because it is not in a position to take any chances and cannot have FDI defeated on the floor of the house, having put a great deal of its prestige on the line.

Sources say that the government has kept alive the adjournment motion of SP chief Mulayam Singh Yadav, and in the worst case scenario if the BJP simply does not listen to the government, it will forward the adjournment motion and hope that will be taken up, since an adjournment motion also requires voting.

The most interesting was the turnaround by the TMC, which made it clear they were not insisting on voting, which is a big reprieve for the Congress in terms of the numbers available to them. The TMC's stance is that since the BJP did not back them on the no-confidence motion, they would not back the BJP on demanding voting for FDI in retail.

It's a simple case of tit for tat and typical of the politics of the TMC chief and West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee. But despite this, the Congress does not want to take any risk on FDI, since Mamata is quite capable of changing her stand at the last minute, according to a senior congress leader, who is keeping track of the numbers.

The government has called a meeting of the UPA allies on Tuesday, which has been at the instance of the DMK. The DMK wants the 2G spectrum scam discussed in Parliament, in the wake of the disclosures by R P Singh, a former CAG official on the manner in which the CAG worked at the behest of the PAC and how officials met senior BJP leader Murli Manhor Joshi and how the reports were made after that.

This gives the DMK and the Congress governments enough ammunition to take on the BJP and expose the functioning of the CAG, with sources saying that pressure is building within the government to order a probe into the allegations of Singh and whether they are true or simply his own imagination.

It is unlikely that Parliament would function on Tuesday also, since the logjam over the FDI in retail debate and voting has not been resolved. Kamal Nath, the new parliamentary affairs minister is trying hard to create dissensions in various political parties including those who are opposed to the Congress, in a bid to bolster up the numbers.

But with the Congress unwilling to take the risk of showing the numbers on the floor of the house during voting, the exercise becomes merely notional with no real value to it.

For the record, ruling party managers have not tired of reiterating that they have the numbers and are neither afraid nor averse to a vote on FDI. But knowing the apprehensions on FDI even amongst its friends and allies and supporting parties like the SP and then the Trinamool congress, ruling party managers are simply not ready to take the risk.

For the government, it's a case of making the best of a bad situation even as it has tried to distract attention by steaming up the row over quotas of SCs and STs in promotions, a move supported by the BSP and opposed by the SP. This has successfully served the government purpose as both the UP parties are pitted against each other.

Along with that, sources say that the Left leaders who are opposed to FDI in retail, have privately advised the government to go ahead with the vote on FDI as the government will easily win the vote and there is no cause for worry since the government can then move on to other business of Parliament including bringing in some key bills, but the Congress leaders are still running scared and are not fully confident of winning the numbers on the FDI game.
Renu Mittal in New Delhi