Government sure of FDI vote, disregards Rajya Sabha math
The government would win the vote on foreign investment in multi-brand retail in the Rajya Sabha just as it had in the Lok Sabha, senior ministers said Thursday despite the fact that the ruling United Progressive Alliance does not have the numbers in the upper house.
"We won in the Lok Sabha and I am confident of my numbers in Rajya Sabha and we will win," Parliamentary Affairs Minister Kamal Nath told reporters outside parliament.
His colleague, union Finance Minister P. Chidambaram, exuded similar confidence.
"Debate will happen in Rajya Sabha and the government is sure we will win the vote," he said brushing aside the arithmetic of the government falling short of numbers.
Unlike in the Lok Sabha, where the government comfortably won the foreign direct investment (FDI) vote Wednesday evening, the government is likely to face a tough test in the Rajya Sabha. Its numbers do not cross even the halfway mark despite the help of outside supporters.
The motion would be debated under rules 167-168, which entail voting after an "in principle" decision taken at a meeting of Rajya Sabha chairman and leaders of political parties.
The government needs the support of 123 members in the 244-member house to defeat the motion brought by the opposition. The Congress with its allies has a strength of 89 in the upper house.
Outside support from the Rashtriya Janata Dal, Lok Janshakti Party, Nagaland People's Front, Bodoland People's Front and Sikkim Democratic Front add another six members, taking the total to 96.
The opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) with allies Janata Dal-United, Shiv Sena and Shiromani Akali Dal have 65 seats. The Left parties have 14 members and Trinamool Congress nine.
Also expected to vote for the motion are Biju Janata Dal (seven), Asom Gana Parishad (two), AIADMK (five) and Telugu Desam Party (five). The opposition tally thus goes to 107 -- ahead of the government.
However, BSP (15) and SP (nine) have not made their respective positions clear, and have rather been forcing adjournments repeatedly in the upper house.
SP chief Mulayam Singh Yadav had said a decision would be taken at the right opportunity. BSP leader Mayawati, meanwhile, said her party's stand would be decided at the time of voting.
The two parties, daggers drawn in Uttar Pradesh, walked out of the Lok Sabha during the vote Wednesday, thereby giving the government a comfortable win.
In the Rajya Sabha, however, even abstentions by the SP and the BSP will not help the government get past the halfway mark.
There are seven independent members besides 10 nominated members.