New Delhi: The UPA government yesterday said it was confident of its numbers ahead of a crucial debate with voting on FDI in multi-brand retail in the Lok Sabha on December 4 and 5.
“We are confident of the numbers. The opposition motion (on FDI in retail) would be defeated in both houses,” Parliamentary Affairs Minister Kamal Nath told CNN-IBN channel in an interview.
He also countered the opposition’s argument that amendments to Foreign Exchange Management Act (FEMA), required to facilitate foreign direct investment (FDI) in retail, have to be passed by both houses. “If one house has passed it, it passes. It does not need both houses to pass it. That’s what is prescribed in the rules,” said Kamal Nath.
Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) leader Sitaram Yechury said recently that FEMA amendments need to be passed in both houses and the government’s failure to do so will be challenged in court. Kamal Nath made light of the threats.
“Anything can go to court. If it goes, we will deal with it,” he said.
He, however, said that a vote on FEMA amendments could be postponed to the budget session scheduled in February 2013 as the government has 30 working days of parliament to get the nod.
A debate with voting on the FDI issue will take place in the Lok Sabha Dec 4 and 5 and later in the Rajya Sabha, said government sources. Though the government is now confident of sailing through in the lower house, it does not have the numbers in the upper house.
“We are urging other parties to reject the politics of the motion,” said Kamal Nath.
“We are talking to other parties to support us in both the houses,” Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs Rajeev Shukla said.
The role of the Samajwadi Party (SP) and the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP), which support the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government from outside, would be crucial here, said the sources.
Samajwadi Party leader Ram Gopal Yadav surprised everyone last week by saying the party would oppose FDI in multi-brand retail in the Rajya Sabha.
“If there is a vote on FDI in Rajya Sabha, we will vote against it. We will not let it pass,” Yadav said. Government sources expressed hope they would be able to persuade the Samajwadi Party, which is furious over what it feels is the UPA’s support for reservation for dalits and tribals in job promotions -- an idea backed by its archrival, the BSP.
In the Rajya Sabha, of the total 245 members, the UPA claims the strength of 90 members. With 27 outside supporters from the BSP, SP, Lok Janshakti Party and the Rashtriya Janata Dal, the government tally stands at 117.
The opposition claims the support of 110 members. Besides, there are seven Independents, five from smaller parties and 10 nominated members.
While the debate in the Lok Sabha will be held under Rule 184, in the Rajya Sabha it will be held under Rule 168, both entailing votes. The Bharatiya Janata Party and CPI-M had submitted separate notices for a debate with a voting provision. The CPI-M also wants a vote on amendments to the FEMA, tabled in the Lok Sabha Friday. Both houses of parliament have seen repeated disruptions on the issue since the winter session began on November 22.
Stock markets will closely track the issue of FDI in multi-brand retail that will dominate Parliament next week with the Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha witnessing a trial of strength over the matter, said experts.