Voting on FDI in retail in Rajya Sabha today
Voting will be held in the Rajya Sabha on Friday on the Bharatiya Janata Party's motion opposing the Congress-led UPA Government's move to allow Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) in multi-brand retail.
Initiating the discussion on the motion disapproving the government's decision to allow FDI on Thursday, AIADMK leader V K Maitreyan said the government never consulted the State Chief Ministers on the issue.
Leader of the Opposition Arun Jaitley said the country would have to pay a heavy price if FDI in retail is allowed.
However, asserting that FDI in multi-brand retail will benefit over 100 crore people, Law Minister Ashwani Kumar said the Congress-led UPA Government is doing exactly what the people of the country expect it to do.
Kumar said there are very good reasons for the government's decision to allow FDI in the retail sector.
"We thought if we were to go ahead with FDI in multi-brand retail, we would be able to enlist significant amount of investment in backend infrastructure. That is why when we made the policy, we said 50 percent of the minimum investment of 100 million dollars, will be done in such activities," said Kumar.
Participating in the discussion, BSP leader Mayawati announced that her party will oppose the motion against FDI and will go with the government in the division of vote.
After Mayawati announced her support, Parliamentary Affairs minister Kamal Nath met top Congress leaders to take stock of numbers.
The UPA, including all allies, has 94 MPs and nine of the 10 nominated MPs are expected to vote for it, a total of 103. The 10th, Sachin Tendulkar, is playing the Kolkata third Test against England and will not be in the House.
The Rajya Sabha has 244 members. With the nine Samajwadi Party MPs expected to abstain, as the party did in the Lok Sabha, and Sachin absent, the House strength will come down to 234 and the majority mark to 118.
Mayawati's 15 MPs will take the pro-FDI total to 118, exactly the number it requires.
The UPA Government has already won the vote on motion against FDI in multi-brand retail in the Lok Sabha.
The motion brought by the opposition was defeated by a margin of 35 votes as 218 members voted in favour of the motion while 253 against it
Members of SP and BSP, with respective strength of 22 and 21, did not participate in the voting in Lok Sabha as they walked out alleging that interests of farmers and small retailers had been ignored.