Cong Maya gives govt second win on FDI

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New Delhi, Dec 7: After the Lok Sabha vote, the confident government overcame uncertainties and orchestrated the voting in Rajya Sabha by making Samajwadi Party to walkout and asked Bahujan Samaj Party's Mayawati to stay and vote in its favour on Friday.

And with the support of nominated members, the government managed to defeat the resolution against FDI with 123 votes, which is exactly half way mark in 244-member Upper House. The opposition parties could pool in 109 votes, more than their known strength.

However, the opposition numbers made the government ask for a recount of the votes. Till late in the evening, there was no word on the final figures. But the bottom line is that the government has secured its position in the parliament on the FDI in retail and the result may not be altered.


The second win on the retail policy was a much-needed boost for Prime Minister Manmohan Singh as he tries to drive a second wave of reforms through a fractious Parliament. The debate over retail reform has proved a costly distraction for the minority government, eating up two weeks of parliament's month-long winter session.

The government's win on FDI would clear the way for voting on bills aimed at attracting foreign investment to the ailing pension and insurance industries, two measures seen by financial markets as important steps in further liberalising an economy in the midst of a slowdown.

Minister of Commerce and Industry Anand Sharma replied to the debate in the house ahead of the vote. Sharma said that the government's FDI policy was made without any foreign influence and that the states that want to implement the policy have a right to do so.

He said, "wrong to say that we did not talk with political parties. 19 CMs have written back to me; I met 14 CMs. 11 states, farmers' organisations and consumer bodies demanded allowing FDI in multi-brand retailing and 16 farmers' organisations have given written consent on FDI."

The minister claimed that "India is the only country which has compulsorily introduced minimum 30% sourcing from local MSMEs" to safeguard the sector. Therefore, "retail FDI won't impact small shops; BJP is sending wrong message to the people of India," said Sharma.

Sharma also targetted Leader of Opposition Arun Jaitley for his comment that FDI will make India a country of sales boys and girls.

In the 244-member house, the halfway mark is 123. The UPA strength is 89. With the BSP's 15 members, its numbers will climb to 104. With the support of smaller parties, including RJD, it will get six more votes, taking the tally to 110.

On the other hand, the BJP and its main allies including JD-U together have 65 votes. With the Left's 14 members and the Trinamool's nine siding with it, the number will total 88.

Other parties against FDI include: BJD (7), AGP (2), AIADMK (5) and TDP (5), which together take the opposition tally to 107 -- just three short of the government tally of 110.

Of the 10 nominated members, three including cricketer Sachin Tendulkar, may not be present due to personal reasons. If the remaining seven go with the government, the UPA tally will be 121, just two short of the half-way mark.

But it looks like both the government and the opposition managed to grab two more than their known share of votes.

Speaking on Thursday, Mayawati said that she would back the government on FDI-in-retail vote in the Rajya Sabha. Her decision was partly based on the government's willingness to let individual states decide whether they allowed in foreign retailers, she said.

Voting results:

Against FDI: 109

For FDI: 123

Total: 232

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