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Trial of strength on FDI issue in Parl next week

November 29, 2012 16:01 IST

A trial of strength over Foreign Direct Investment in retail issue will be witnessed in Parliament next week, with the Lok Sabha deciding to have a discussion on December 4 and 5 on the issue under a rule that entails voting, a strident demand of the Opposition.

While Rajya Sabha will also have a similar discussion, the date and timings for it will be decided after consultations with various political parties.

The decision led to an end to the logjam in Parliament on Thursday on the issue which had paralysed proceedings for four days with the Left and the Right making a common cause.

Following an all-party meeting and discussions with United Progressive Alliance leaders, the government signalled its readiness for such a debate after Parliamentary Affairs Minister Kamal Nath held consultations with Leaders of Opposition Sushma Swaraj and Arun Jaitley on Wednesday which saw BJP sticking to its stand.

Four days after the Opposition paralysed the proceedings in both Houses of Parliament, the government relented on the issue by leaving the matter to be decided by the presiding officers.

This will be the first such trial of strength in the 15th Lok Sabha. There have been very rare occasions that a discussion of this sort on executive decision has taken place.

With Samajwadi Party and Bahujan Samaj Party giving support to the government in Lok Sabha and key ally Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam deciding to go with it to keep communal forces at bay, the Congress-led coalition is confident of its numbers.

"I have received 30 notices for discussion on FDI in multi-brand retail under Rule 184. I have admitted the motion to allow the discussion," the Speaker Meira Kumar said.

But in Rajya Sabha, in a discomforting news to the government, Samajwadi Party said it will vote against FDI in the Upper House where UPA does not have majority on its own.

"We will vote against FDI in Rajya Sabha if the government brings it there," SP leader in the Upper House Ramgopal Yadav said. SP has nine members in the 244-member House.

After a meeting of leaders of all parties chaired by Rajya Sabha Chairman Hamid Ansari, Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs Rajiv Shukla said that the government has agreed to a discussion on FDI under rule 168 that entails voting.

He said that the date and timing of the discussion will be decided later after consultations with leaders of all parties.

UPA and its allies have a strength of 94 members in the Upper House. The ten nominated members may go ahead to vote with the government. BSP has 15 MPs and SP nine.

Among the seven independents, three-four may support the government. BSP, which extends outside support to UPA, has 15 members and it has said that it will disclose its stand on the issue on the floor of the House.

While in Lok Sabha, the government appears to be comfortably placed in the numbers game with promise of support from SP and BSP and DMK's open backing, Trinamool Congress with 19 MPs has also been cold towards the Opposition demand for a vote on the issue.

UPA enjoys the support of about 265 MPs in Lok Sabha which has total strength of 545. With the support of Samajwadi Party (22) and BSP (21), the backing for the ruling coalition goes a little over 300, which is a comfortable figure over the required mark of 273.

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