UPA, opposition in verbal joust over FDI in retail after Rajya Sabha vote
Hours and minutes after the UPA Government won a vote in the Rajya Sabha to allow foreign direct investment in multi-brand retail by a margin of 14 (123 versus 109), leaders of the ruling combine and the opposition engaged in a verbal political joust that could leave the general public bemused, if not confused.
While the opposition led by the BJP continued to criticize the government over foreign direct investment (FDI) in retail sector despite losing vote in both houses of parliament.
BJP leader Ravi Shankar Prasad said: "Wal-Mart has biggie back itself on the people, who claim to do politics of social justice. Wal-Mart has biggie back itself on the people, who clam to advocate the interest of poor, workers, Dalits (lowest caste) and marginalized."
Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) leader Sitaram Yechury said:
"What has happened today is not democracy. It is victory what is called supremacy of the market in economic reform terms."
Trinamool Congress leader Vivek Gupta said: "This FDI would remain confine to one or two states and that itself is a major victory for us. We will deliberate how to oppose it. This will continue till national elections are held in 2013 or 2014."
Janata Dal-United (JD-U) leader Shivanand Tiwari said: "It is against the interest of the country. This is the policy of the Congress Party. There is massive unemployment in the country. The government is unable to provide employment. It is not a country's interest allow Wal-Mart, Tesco, Metro and in sector where a person could be self-employed by investing small capital. The county will not forgive them"
Allowing foreign supermarkets into the country is aimed at drawing more overseas investment and taming inflation. India's retail market is reportedly worth about 450 billion dollars
The government had already won a vote on retail reform in the Lok Sabha two days earlier.
Although both votes were non-binding, defeat would have piled pressure on Prime MInister Manmohan Singh to roll back the measure.
Union Parliamentary Affairs Minister Kamal Nath, defending the government's stand on the issue, said: "The BJP always makes this allegation and I would wish that they were better losers, they lost in the Lok Sabha, they have lost in the Rajya Sabha and they are making these allegations. This was a rejection of the politics of the BJP. I have said so from the beginning that this is nothing but politics, there was no issue of FDI because FDI has been left to the states and of there was anything left in this debate, it was pure politics. So, this is the rejection of the politics of BJP."
Finance Minister P.Chidambaram said: "To demand the vote in the Rajya Sabha that it is the right of the Rajya Sabha to ask for a vote. They asked for a vote, we showed that we had a clear majority."
BJP leader M. Venkaiah Naidu said: "We might have lost in numbers because of the manipulation of the ruling party but it's a moral victory. If we go by the speeches made in the house by different parties, overwhelming majority of members of Rajya Sabha have opposed FDI in retail. So, I am confident, they might have had the numbers today but they will be taught a fitting lesson as and when they go to the people. I am sure about it because the government could not give any convincing answer to any of the questions raised by us."
Nath further said: "When the BSP supported BJP during the vote on nuclear deal, at that time they did not mention the point of CBI, we were the ruling party at that time. So, if a party votes in their favour, then they do not point out at CBI and if the party votes against them, then they make hue and cry about CBI. This exposes the intensions and level of thinking of Bharatiya Janata Party and they are trying to misguide and mislead people even after their defeat."
Samajwadi party leader Mulayam Singh Yadav said: "Farmers, shopkeepers and weavers will all be destroyed."
He also said that he did'nt think his vote would have mattered on the issue.