Live: Government wins FDI war in Parliament

December 7, 2012
NEW DELHI: The ruling UPA government got a much-needed boost as they managed to defeat the BJP's motion against FDI in retail by getting 123 votes to 109 votes against FDI.

The ruling UPA government got a much-needed boost as they managed to defeat the BJP's motion against FDI in retail by getting 123 votes to 109 votes in the Rajya Sabha.

This paves the way for foreign equity in multi-brand retail in the country, a move seen as a major step forward in Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's economic reforms process.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's Congress party-led minority government secured the victory after Mayawati's Bahujan Samaj Party voted in favour of retail reform and the Samajwadi Party abstained.

The government won a vote in the Lok Sabha on Wednesday thanks to abstentions of the same two parties, but had originally looked set to lose in the Rajya Sabha, where it has fewer parliamentary seats.

The vote in the Lok Sabha - which the government won thanks to abstentions by two powerful regional parties - was non-binding.

The government won the motion with 253 votes to the opposition's 218 with the Bahujan Samaj Party and the Samajwadi Party abstaining in the Lok Sabha.

The vote now clears the way for voting on bills aimed at attracting foreign investment to the ailing pension and insurance industries, two measures seen by financial markets as important steps towards further liberalising an economy in the midst of a slowdown.

Yesterday's debate saw the Congress, its allies as well as the Opposition voicing their stands on the issue. While Law Minister Ashwani Kumar said FDI is want the people of the country want, Opposition leader Arun Jaitley said India would have to pay a heavy price if FDI is allowed.

BSP chief Mayawati made sure she retaliated to what BJP leader Sushma Swaraj had said in the Lok Sabha. Swaraj had said the SP and BSP were afraid the CBI would come after them if they didnk't side with the Congress. A charge Mayawati vehemently denied. She in turn called Swaraj a case of 'sour grapes' and said it was the BJP which misused the CBI when it was in power. After her long-drawn speech she made it amply clear that she was with the UPA.

With BSP support, the numbers for FDI rose to 118 while those against it is at 99. The UPA needs 117 votes to win.

December 6, 2012

A day after the FDI in multi-brand retail got the approval of the Lok Sabha as the opposition motion seeking immediate withdrawal of the decision was rejected convincingly as the Bahujan Samaj Party and Samajwadi Party walked out, the Rajya Sabha will debate and vote on the issue.

Leader of the Opposition in Rajya Sabha, Arun Jaitley, will initiate the debate on behalf of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). The debate is expected to begin at around noon.

Jaitley had earlier on Wednesday said the Congress-led UPA Government doesn't seem to be serious about conducting business in the Rajya Sabha from the very first day of the Winter Session of Parliament.

The Mayawati-led Bahujan Samajwadi Party and the Mulayam Singh led-Samajwadi Party bailed out the ruling UPA government as they staged a walkout in the Lok Sabha thus abstaining from voting on the critical FDI in retail issue.

The government managed to defeat the BJP's motion against FDI in retail by getting 253 votes, while those opposed to FDI got 218 votes.

It was a much-needed boost for Manmohan Singh at a time when he is trying to drive a second wave of reforms through a fractious parliament. The debate over retail reform has proved a costly distraction for the minority government, eating up two weeks of the month-long parliamentary session.

The victory clears the way for voting on bills aimed at attracting foreign investment to the ailing pension and insurance industries, two measures seen by financial markets as important steps in further liberalising an economy in the midst of a slowdown.

The vote in parliament's lower house - which the government won thanks to abstentions by two powerful regional parties - was non-binding. However, a loss would have made it harder for Singh to defend the policy to bring global chains such as Wal-Mart Stores Inc. to India's $450 billion retail sector.

Under threat of losing India's investment-grade credit rating, and facing the prospect of fighting a general election during the worst growth slump in a decade, Singh launched the policy amid a flurry of long-delayed reforms in September.

December 5, 2012

The going may not be easy for the government today when the Parliament votes on the controversial FDI. Yesterday's heated debate proved that the UPA will have a tough fight to get the numbers in their favour.

SP and BSP kept their cards close to their chest, not revealing whether they were with the government on this. However, from their speech in the Parliament, they made it quite clear that the Centre re-look their demand for FDI as it will mean unemployment for millions. The SP and BSP together have 43 MPs in the Lok Sabha.

Meanwhile, Congress President Sonia Gandhi was seen prompting her ministers in between their speech to take on the Opposition. She was seen giving frequent instructions to Leader of the House Sushil Kumar Shinde, parliamentary affairs minister Kamal Nath and communications and IT minister Kapil Sibal.

December 4, 2012
NEW DELHI: The government had promised a decision on foreign investment in retail after consensus but had gone back on its promise, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader Sushma Swaraj said Tuesday while initiating the debate on the issue in the Lok Sabha.

The leader of opposition said the government claims that foreign direct investment (FDI) in multi-brand retail would benefit farmers but this was not proven by international experience.

"The government has gone back on its promise of holding consultation with all stakeholders before allowing FDI in retail. It is sad that no effort was made to make a political consensus and no meeting or any consultation was held with even the main opposition party," she said.

"International experience shows that retailers do predatory pricing and they will reduce the prices so that the other shops get shut and when the market is over, they will increase the prices and then consumers will have no choice but to buy at high prices," she said.

To end a deadlock that has paralysed the functioning of both the houses of Parliament, the government bowed to intense Opposition pressure and agreed to a vote on its decision to allow foreign direct investment in multi-brand retail in the country.

The UPA government said it was confident of its numbers in the Lok Sabha, a day ahead of the crucial debate - with voting - in the house on FDI in retail and urged all parties to reject the politics behind the issue.

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 vote, said government sources.

Though the government is now confident of sailing through in the Lower House, it does not have the required numbers in the Upper House.

The role of the Samajwadi Party and the Bahujan Samaj Party, which support the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance government from the outside, would be crucial in the Rajya Sabha.

Of the total 245 members in the Rajya Sabha, the UPA has a numerical strength of 90. With 27 outside supporters from the BSP, SP, Lok Janshakti Party and the Rashtriya Janata Dal, the government tally stands at 117 as against the magical 123-figure for majority.

The Bharatiya Janata Party and the Left parties have already made their stance on FDI in retail clear: they will vote against the government on this issue.

The opposition claims the support of 110 members. Besides, there are seven independents, five members from smaller parties and 10 nominated.

With agency inputs