Both Houses of Parliament to debate, vote on FDI

2:41 PM, Thursday, November 29th, 2012
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Parliament of IndiaNew Delhi: The deadlock in both Houses of Parliament ended on Thursday with presiding officers of the Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha allowing a debate on FDI in multi-brand retail under rules that entail voting.

The Opposition had been pressing the government to hold a debate on FDI in Parliament with voting.

While Lok Sabha Speaker Meira Kumar allowed the debate under Rule 184, the discussion and subsequent voting in Rajya Sabha will be held under Rule 168.

Meira Kumar announced the decision when the House convened at 11 am.

“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 date and the time will be decided later,” the Speaker announced in the House.

Leader of the Opposition Sushma Swaraj welcomed the decision of the Speaker. “I welcome the decision. I assure you smooth functioning of the House,” she said immediately after the Speaker allowed it.

Sources said the debate could begin on Monday and a vote held either on Tuesday or Wednesday.

Rajya Sabha Chairman Hamid Ansari allowed the debate under Rule 168 after meeting leaders of all parties following continued disruptions in the Upper House for the fifth day.

After the House was adjourned for the day, Ansari called a meeting of leaders of all parties at 1 pm and the deadlock was resolved there.

The vote on FDI will be non-binding on the government, meaning the UPA faces no threat even if it loses the vote. However, it would be a political embarrassment if the government fails to prove numbers on the floor of the House during the voting.

The Samajwadi Party, which supports the UPA government from outside, today said it will vote against the FDI in Rajya Sabha. It may be noted that the government is in minority in the Upper House. SP leader Ramgopal Yadav said his party can take two different stands in Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha.

The end to Parliament logjam came hours after Parliamentary Affairs Minister Kamal Nath met the Lok Sabha Speaker along with Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde and Sushma Swaraj.

Sushma had stuck to her party’s demand that a debate on FDI be held under a rule that entails voting.

The government had dropped ample hints earlier that it was ready for a debate on FDI in retail under a rule that entails voting. Kamal Nath had stressed that the government wanted Parliament to function.

While the UPA was till this morning confident of its numbers, SP’s backtracking from its soft stand has come as a cause of worry for the government.

UPA partner DMK, which had some reservations on the move, is now backing FDI in retail while the Bahujan Samaj Party, which supports the alliance from outside, has not taken a tough stand on the issue.

Sources said the BSP could support the government by abstaining from voting to address its votebase.

The government got a shot in the arm after its erstwhile partner Trinamool Congress too said it had left on the presiding officers of the two Houses the decision over the rules under which the debate should be held.

But the government is not sure of Trinamool support, which is expected to abstain if a vote take place, said the sources.



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