While dismissing the Trinamool Congress' idea of bringing a no-confidence motion in Parliament, Prakash Karat, general secretary of the Communist Party of India-Marxist, said that in the coming week the Opposition parties will put up a big political fight to force the government to allow a debate on Foreign Direct Investment in multi-brand retail trade under section 184 that can put the motion to vote.
When asked if the coming session of Parliament will be disrupted by the Opposition parties, Karat clearly said, "If the government takes the same position as stated by Anand Sharma (commerce minister) -- that an executive decision can't be put to vote in Parliament -- then I am afraid the Parliament is in for a very stormy time!"
He said, "Government has to accept the discussion under the rule 184. We will have a political fight for it that shows the government is not prepared to face the Parliament on the issue of FDI in retail. There are cases where the executive policy decision of the Parliament has been put to vote."
During the National Democratic Alliance regime, CPM leader Rupchand Pal moved a motion to discuss the disapproval of proposed disinvestment of Bharat Aluminum Company. The decision to disinvest in BALCO was an "executive policy decision" as the decision on FDI in multi-brand retail is.
"The political situation is such that a no-confidence motion will not be helpful. The issue is political. Even if the Opposition members have the numbers inside Parliament they may lose because we are not too sure of all the Opposition parties," Karat reiterated.
Karat said the Opposition parties' main aim has to be successful in the end. He said, "Today the lines are drawn in such a way that our purpose is to politically isolate the UPA. The no-confidence motion is not the best way to go about it." He agreed that the government may not have to resign if the motion is won by the Opposition parties. But a clear message will go out that the Parliament does not want the government to go ahead with its decision on FDI in retail, he said.
While speaking at the Indian Women's Press Corps, Karat put forward his party's views on why it is opposed to the Mamata-driven motion.
"The process of consultation is on. The general view in most parties is to not support the no-confidence motion including some of the bigger parties (BJP) in the Opposition. We have met Sharad Yadav, NDA's convenor, too," said Karat. He confirmed that the Left leaders in Parliament are talking to their counterparts in the BJP.
When rediff.com asked Karat if the BJP was still an untouchable party for him, he gave a lengthy explanation.
"Everyone knows that they are the Right Opposition and we are the Left Opposition in Parliament, but given the nature of Parliament, our Opposition on some issues will coincide with them sometimes. We cannot really share any political understanding or alignment or a long term agreement with the BJP because we are so different. Therefore, yes, inside the Parliament we may take certain positions, but that we do with other parties also," Karat said.
"I don't think there is any scope for further alliance or understanding with the BJP as far as we are concerned. On FDI in retail, I have no hesitation in standing along with the BJP inside Parliament. If there is any no-confidence motion which we need to support, and if we are backing it, then, we will not see who else is supporting it," Karat emphasised.
"We too want to fight against the government. But the question is which is the best method to fight this government? We don't have any other reservation as such against the no-confidence motion. In fact, in 1993, we moved a motion against the Narsimha Rao government that resulted into the Jharkhand Mukti Morcha scandal. The government was saved through bribery matters. But today, the situation is different. The way political parties are poised in Parliament we will not be able to win the motion of no-confidence .It will not be helpful for us. The TMC and Mamataji must be thinking that this is the best way to go about it, but we don't share that view," Karat said.
"Today the government has numbers -- unless you don't believe Mr Mulayam Singh or Miss Mayawati. They have not withdrawn support to the government. The Rashtriya Janata Dal has not withdrawn support. You can't bring down the government with help of a no-confidence motion," he added.
When asked if the no-confidence motion will expose the Left parties' double talk, Karat said, "Much before this no confidence came we took this position. Except for the Congress, the Nationalist Congress Party and the National Conference no other party, even within the UPA, has supported FDI in retail. Which is the best way to oppose the government? If we take up the FDI in retail issue we can take on the government. Pranab Mukherjee has said in Parliament that they are keeping the issue in suspension and they will make an effort to form a consensus. Now when the Parliament is meeting again we are saying that you have got a policy that most parties are opposing. We want to discuss it and put it to vote. Anand Sharma has said that no executive policy decision has been discussed in Parliament and put to vote. He may be good in commerce but not in history. We have said that the BALCO disinvestment was debated and put to vote in Parliament. We are discussing it with the entire Opposition. Surely, we are putting the government in the dock."
When asked if he was ready for the election, Karat said, "Congress party itself is preparing for an election. They have made an announcement for it."
Speaking on the Chinese policy on FDI, he said, "I think we should not do things that the Chinese have done. They have invited Wal-Mart, but I think we should not do it. Chinese have got more foreign capital in manufacturing. Even, insurance and banking are highly regulated. Broadly, we have not opposed FDI in manufacturing."