FDI vote: BSP, SP bail out UPA
The Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) of Mayawati and Mulayam Singh Yadav-led Samajwadi Party (SP) lawmakers walked out of the Lok Sabha on Wednesday ahead of the voting on the Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) in multi-brand retail, paving the way for the UPA government to win the vote.
The 43 lawmakers of the two parties, which lend outside support to United Progressive Alliance (UPA), walked out when Union Commerce and Industry Minister Anand Sharma was defending the government decision on FDI in retail and before Leader of Opposition Sushma Swaraj spoke.
They would abstain from voting.
With the walkout the House strength fell to 500 and made it easier for Congress led UPA to win the vote since it now needs only 251 votes to win it. UPA has now the support of at least 258 lawmakers in favour of the FDI as against 221 against the FDI.
After walking out, SP chief Mulayam Singh Yadav said they walked out because they were against FDI in multi-brand retail.
"We would not vote was the decision of the party. It was best decision," he said, but did not reply to reporters with a clear answer when asked that his voting could have been a bigger protest against FDI.
Earlier, Communist Party of India (CPI) leader Gurudas Dasgupta slammed the Prime Minister during the debate in the Lok Sabha on the FDI in multi-brand retail issue and said he (the PM) was ready to sacrifice the government for retail giant Wal-Mart.
"For the cause of Walmart, the Prime Minister is even ready to sacrifice his government," Dasgupta said.
"The government believes economic situation of the country is grim. And it believes FDI will rescue the Indian economy from the crisis," he said.
The Lok Sabha, which will vote on the issue of FDI in multi-brand retail Wednesday evening, debated the matter for the second day with lawmakers like Janata Dal (United) Sharad Yadav attacking the government sharply for imposing the decision on people.
"Roll back FDI in multi-brand retail, or else we will roll back the government," Yadav said debating the issue.
He said if they had wanted the government to fall they would have backed Trinamoo's no-confidence motion.
He said the government wants Wal-Mart in India for the few who prospered owing to the government since the MNCs are not coming to help or serve the people.
"I am not averse to market forces, but is this the way," he said.
Basudeb Acharya of Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) said they would not allow Wal-Mart easily in India and would take the battle to streets from Parliament.
"Neither consumers, nor farmers would benefit," he said.
The Prime Minister Manmohan Singh meanwhile said the government was confident of winning the vote on FDI in retail.
"Why would we have a debate if we were not confident?" he said.
However, lawmakers like Praful Patel, who represents Nationalist Congress Party (NCP), said FDI would do good to India and all the panic reactions are uncalled for.
"Our farmers and traders and labourers are all geared up to take up global challenges," he said.
He said local markets would not be hurt by FDI in retail and globalization would not kill industry.
A heated debate on this issue took place in the lower House on Tuesday.
While Congress led UPA would bail itself out in Lok Sabha, in Rajya Sabha it stands a crucial test since the Congress lacks adequate numbers in the upper house.
The FDI debate under Rule 168, which entails voting, is set to take place in the Rajya Sabha on Dec 6 and 7.
The support of Mayawati and the SP are crucial for the government in Rajya Sabha.