As SP, BSP walk out, govt wins FDI vote


Third, the vote reaffirmed the government's total dependence on the SP and BSP in Parliament to get critical legislations passed, beginning with the bill allowing for quotas in promotions for SCs and STs the BSP is keen on. The walkouts by the SP and BSP, however, did not come as a surprise as government managers had aggressively wooed them.

SP leader Mulayam Singh Yadav and BSP leader Dara Singh strongly attacked the FDI decision during the debate but when it came to voting, the two parties walked out of the house. UPA partners DMK and NCP said they did not support the controversial FDI decision but voted with the government in the House.

The mainstay of Commerce minister Anand Sharma's response was to rebut the opposition contention that the government had failed to build a consensus among all stakeholders, including political parties and state governments.

Making a point by point rebuttal, Sharma listed out letters that were written to political parties as well as the number of meetings held at the official level with farmers' organisations and others. Sharma maintained that the DIPP secretary also wrote to all state governments and finally 11 state governments out of 21 strongly supported allowing FDI in multi-brand retail, which caused the government to push the decision.

"I also individually met Mamata Banerjee thrice...I also went to Bhubaneswar and talked to Orissa Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik. And I also went to Punjab and sought the support of Chief Minister Prakash Singh Badal," he told the House adding that he respected their decision to oppose FDI in multi-brand retail. "In a federal structure, everyone has the right to decide. We are not imposing on any state. We are only making it an enabling law," he said.

Contesting the victory of the government, Swaraj interpreted the debate as a clear indication that the "sense of the house" was against FDI in multi-brand retail. "After the vote, it is amply clear that the government is in a minority...But the government is ignoring the fact that it does not have majority. This is arrogance of power" she told reporters after the vote. "Though they won technically, they have lost morally."

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