FDI debate: Cong confident of sailing through

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New Delhi, Dec 3: Political actors were engaged in busy schedules on Monday ahead of the crucial debate and vote on the foreign direct investment (FDI) in multi-brand retail in the Parliament. While the Congress said it was confident of seeing through the vote, BSP chief Mayawati was yet to clarify her party's stand in case there was a vote. The Left, meanwhile, raised allegations of horse trading in the FDI voting episode.

The Congress also issued a whip to the party MPs regarding their presence in the Lok Sabha on Tuesday and Wednesday, when the crucial issue will be taken up for debate and vote. The BSP chief, while addressing a press conference, said her party might finally bail out the government on the debate. She said the final decision would be taken at the time of the voting and her party would take a call on whether to stand by the communal forces or not.

Mayawati, however, did not support the government's claim that FDI in retail would help the country's economy and tame the rising prices. She said the policy would also affect farmers and traders negatively. She said the decision to make the FDI policy optional for the states is a good one and suggested that the policy could be first implemented in the Congress-ruled states and the future course of action could be charted out after seeing the impact.

The Samajwadi Party is also opposed to the FDI although it has not revealed its stand on the matter. Both the rival parties from Uttar Pradesh, it seems, are buying time for the other to make the first move.

The CPI(M) rejected Urban Development and Parliamentary Affairs Minister Kamal Nath's stand that the Foreign Exchange Management Act (FEMA) notification dealing with the FDI did not require approval in both houses. Nath had said on Sunday that it was not necessary to pass the notification in the Rajya Sabha where the UPA does not have the numbers. Senior CPI(M) leader Sitaram Yechury said Section 48 of the FEMA clearly states that it has to be passed in both Houses of Parliament.

He said the government might have to face voting three times for if an MP moved an amendment to the FEMA notification, it would be put to vote and another 30 days would be allotted. Nath, however, said later that if required, they would pass it in both Houses.

The Left, alleging that horse trading was going on to make up the numbers, said it was keeping a close watch on both Mayawati and Mulayam. Yechury said Mayawati was opposed to the policy while Mulayam went to jail with the Left on the issue. "But in Parliament we will see what they eventually do," Yechury said at a Left convention. He said if parties like SP, TDP and JD(S), who had protested against the FDI with the Left voted against the policy, the UPA government would be defeated. Left leaders like Prakash Karat, AB Bardhan and D Raja said that Walmart will not be allowed an entry in the country.

[See: Cong woos Mayawati]

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