UPA wins FDI vote in Rajya Sabha
Helped by Mayawati's Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP), the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) led by Congress on Friday comfortably won the vote in favour of Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) in multi-brand retail in Rajya Sabha, passing a crucial test in the upper house that now paves the way for implementation of the big bang economic decision by the Manmohon Singh government.
Since the motion was that the House disapproves FDI in multi-brand retail, a total of 123 Noes as against 109 Ayes among the members who were present and voting clinched the decision in favour of the government. There was one abstention.
This was the final tally though the Rajya Sabha electronic board showed 116 Noes and 95 Ayes.
A Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) MP even arrived on ambulance to vote, reports said. Two MPs who were unwell could not come to vote.
All nominated MPs except cricketer Sachin Tendulkar were present in the House, since the Prime Minster had urged them to come and vote.
Mayawati's Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) with 15 MPs in the upper house had decided to support the government a day ago and said she would not go with communal forces like BJP and the good point in the FDI decision is that it is not compulsory for all states.
The Samajwadi Party (SP) lawmakers predictably walked out of the Rajya Sabha during the FDI voting, making it easy for UPA to win.
On Wednesday the UPA had won the vote on allowing 51 percent FDI in multi-brand retail in Lok Sabha , defeating the Opposition motion against it.
The ruling coalition had got 253 votes in their favour, well over the 236-vote requirement after a walkout by Samajwadi Party and Bahujan Samaj Party had lowered the halfway mark.
Earlier in the day, in his speech punctuated with protests by the opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), Union Commerce and Industry Minister Anand Sharma in Rajya Sabha said that almost all chief ministers of India were consulted on the issue of FDI.
"I consulted all. I went to meet West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee though it is a different issue that she said that she cannot support us because it will then go against her election manifesto and we respect that," said Sharma speaking on the debate on FDI.
He said the Union Secretary had written to Chief Secretaries of all states for their opinions and of the 21 states which responded, eleven had supported the move.
He said he may have less knowledge but he is not ill informed on issues related to FDI.
"It is said the country will be one of sales boys and girls. Please do not disrespect the boys and girls in our cities and villages who are poor but engaged in the job of selling," he said.
BJP disrupted his speech by challenging his figures on the wastage of agricultural produce with Leader of the Opposition in upper house Arun Jaitley demanding clarifications on the figures.
Sharma claimed that consumer forums and unions were also consulted and no state can be compelled to implement FDI in multi brand retail while one state cannot prevent another to not implement it either.
What helped the government is Mayawati's decision to support the government.
"What is good is that it is not compulsory for all states. We have also considered whether to stand with communal forces. There can be disruption in the coming days. Important bills are pending, the government will get the excuse to escape important issues. That's why looking at plus points, the BSP will vote in favour of the government," Mayawati said on Thursday.
Trinamool Congress, which was an ally of the UPA, in September walked out of the government over the issue of FDI and other clutch of big bang economic reforms announced by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.