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Advani has an alternate plan to deflate UPA

Last updated on: September 19, 2012 17:32 IST

Advani has an alternate plan to deflate UPA

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Neerja Chowdhury

BJP's senior-most leader L K Advani tells Neerja Chowdhury that though the FDI in multi-brand retail decision was taken by an executive order, a "roll back is possible if there is a resolution by Parliament to this effect".

The Bharatiya Janata Party, which is strategising in the wake of Mamata Banerjee's decision to withdraw support to the UPA government, is considering meeting the President to urge him to call a special session of Parliament.

The idea is not to press for a no-confidence motion against the government, as is being widely speculated, but to push for the passage of a resolution by both Houses of Parliament for the revocation of the "FDI in multi-brand retail".

This, it calculates, could unite parties, which may otherwise be chary of standing along the BJP against a "secular government".

"FDI in retail", however, was an issue which could bring a large chunk of the political spectrum on the same side, including the BJP and the Left parties, Samajwadi Party and the Bahujan Samaj Party, and of course the Mamata Banerjee-led Trinamool Congress, which has revolted on the issue, besides other regional groupings.

Such a resolution would signal a loss of majority for the government, without bringing it down.

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Speaking to this correspondent, BJP's senior-most leader L K Advani said that though the "FDI in multi-brand retail" decision was taken by an executive order, a "roll back is possible if there is a resolution by Parliament to this effect".

This was so, "particularly in the context of the government giving an assurance to both Houses -- and the leader of the House gave this assurance last November -- that the decision to invite FDI in multi-brand retail was being suspended till a consensus was evolved among all the stakeholders and the then Finance Minister (Pranab Mukherji) had specifically mentioned the stakeholders to be political parties and chief ministers".

Advani said, "This will be the basis of our request that a special session of Parliament be called, and we will meet the President after the September 20 bandh."

He said his party would be consulting its allies in the NDA first, as also other parties, on this issue after the Bandh was over.

"These are possibilities in my mind and in the mind of the BJP today," he added.

Asked if such a step had been taken in the past, Advani said he could not recall if there was such a precedent, but it was "not necessary, when a solemn assurance had been given to Parliament by none other than the leader of the House".

He was confident, he said, that the resolution would be passed by a majority in both Houses of Parliament, "if all those who are supporting the bandh come together."

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On the Akali Dal, an ally of the BJP, favouring FDI in multi-brand retail, Advani clarified: "They have not said anything. They are with us in the bandh."

With Mamata pulling out of the UPA, all eyes are now on Mulayam Singh Yadav, whose party, along with the BSP, continued to prop the government in power by giving it outside support.

"Let us see what Mulayam Singh Yadav does," Advani said. The veteran BJP leader said he had told Mulayam recently that "the aam aadmi does not trust you on your attitude towards the UPA government".

"My advice to you," he told Mulayam, "is that it is your consistency which will create credibility for you."

Advani saw the government's recent economic decisions hastening the process for early elections.

"Till now, we had felt that the government might last till 2014. Now, I feel it cannot run on till then. It is too long a phase. With a series of scams and a paralysis of policy decision making, the government has become dysfunctional. There never has been a government of this kind."

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Any "prudent" government, Advani said, would have been concerned more "about the electoral fallout of the slew of decisions it took recently, like an hike in the price of diesel and FDI in multi brand retail, particularly when a series of assembly elections were in the offing and the Lok Sabha polls were slated for 2014, and not about any aspect of foreign policy or about whether or not economic reforms were being adequately discussed".

The ruling dispensation, he said, was committing "harakiri" today.

"I have said that the Government is committing harakiri with these decisions. "Par is se desh ka bhala hoga."

The UPA, the BJP leader said, was gripped by the "Lemmings complex". (Lemmings was a rodent in Scandinavia, the only animal to have a suicidal tendency every 5 to 10 years).

"I can see that in the UPA today, a feeling of kaise hum maraen (how do we die)".

Interestingly, he had soft words to say about the Left parties, and it was almost as if he was making overtures to them in a new political situation that is now rapidly evolving.

"It is possible for us and the Left to work together on issues," he said.

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Tags: UPA , BJP , Advani , FDI

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He recalled the occasion, during the last session of Parliament, when the Communist Party of India and Communist Party of India-Marxist leaders Gurudas Dasgupta and Basudeb Acharya had come to Leader of Opposition Sushma Swaraj's room -- and he was also present -- and Dasgupta had remarked that they had come into "forbidden territory". Advani said, "I had said at the time that no territory is forbidden for any political party which believes in parliamentary functioning and there was a time when we had worked together on a host of issues."

He was of the view, Advani said, that while untouchability in social relations was a "crime", so also in politics, "there should not be any untouchability", though "you could always disagree".

There was a time, he recalled, when the entire opposition used to sit together to decide their united candidate for President's post, and the BJP had once agreed to the CPI's suggestion to field Hiren Mukherji for President and then it was found that his name was not on the electoral rolls.

There were two parties today, he went on, which were capable of nuanced changes and "an inclination to reinterpret their basic commitments on the basis of the changing political scenario" and these were BJP and the Left parties.




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