Govt confident of winning FDI vote; SP, BSP hold key

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New Delhi, Dec 5: The UPA government remained confident of winning the vote of foreign direct investment (FDI) in multi-brand retail. Following the heated debate in the Lok Sabha on Tuesday where Telecom Minister Kapil Sibal took on the Leader of the Opposition Sushma Swaraj, the government was expecting to get the required numbers in a voting that will take place on Wednesday. Two crucial parties, the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) and Samajwadi Party (SP), from Uttar Pradesh are likely to bail the government out.

The voting on FDI is expected to take place after 6 pm on Wednesday on a motion moved by the Opposition to bar the entry of FDI and on FEMA. The Opposition will still insist on two separate votes - one on FDI and other on FEMA. Both the SP and BSP seem to be playing waiting games with none taking the first move. BSP chief Mayawati had said on Monday that the SP was waiting to see what stand her party took and then decide its move accordingly. SP chief Mulayam Singh Yadav, on the other hand, said his party still opposed the government's FDI proposal but at the same time, was clear as to who was his natural ally.

Lok Sabha

Swaraj is also expected to respond to Sibal's statements on Wednesday.

The government will not face problem in gathering the required numbers in the Lok Sabha. If both the BSP and SP abstain from voting in the 545-seat House, the majority mark will come down to 251 from 273. The Congress and its UPA allies have 261 MPs while the anti-FDI MPs make it 219.

However, in the Rajya Sabha, the government is in a minority and will need backing from both Mayawati and Mulayam. Out of the total strength of 244 in the Upper House, the UPA has the strength of only 94 members. The 10 nominated members may vote in favour of the government and three to four out of seven Independents can also back the FDI proposal. But still the government will fall short of the required numbers.

The government has managed to get support of allies like the DMK but at the same time, the decision by some Congressmen from the Telangana region in Andhra Pradesh has boycotted a meeting with minister Kamal Nath on Tuesday and it is not clear whether they will vote in support of the party. The nine MPs from Telangana, including minister Jaipal Reddy, are reportedly unhappy with the party's overlooking the Telangana issue.

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