FDI: Left parties call for vote in House

In a bid to corner the government on its decision to allow 51 per cent FDI in multi-brand retail, the Left parties on Monday decided to move adjournment motion under the voting rules (Rule 184) in the Parliament. The month-long winter session of the Parliament will begin from November 22.

"We want the government to seek a vote on the issue," said Basudeb Acharia, leader of the CPM in Lok Sabha, who gave the notice. He said the Left would plan its strategy, including seeking support from other parties, at the meeting of their parliamentary wings on November 16. He gave the notice for a discussion following a broad consensus at a meeting of Left parties held here on Monday.

The CPM move is intended to seize the initiative created by its rival in West Bengal Trinamool Congress, which has opposed FDI in retail. The Trinamool Congress, which has 19 MPs, had after withdrawing its support to UPA indicated that it may move a motion of no-confidence against the government on the issue. But there has been no effort since then by the party to mobilise support.

The DMK, another key ally with 18 members, had also decided to vote for any resolution against FDI in retail in Parliament. Foreseeing the Congress need for a majority-support and the indispensability of the Samajwadi Party (which has 22 members) and the BSP (which has 21 MPs), Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had recently reached out to the leaders of both parties.

He met SP chief Mulayam Singh Yadav and his son and UP Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav over a dinner and BSP leader Mayawati over a lunch to ensure their support.

The Supreme Court had earlier this month refused to interfere with the policy on FDI in retail saying that if it does not stand in Parliament then it would be at government's peril.

A bench of Justices R M Lodha and A R Dave had said that the policy-making is the "sole prerogative of the executive" and refused to direct the government to place it in Parliament saying that the Centre might do it on its own in the winter session.

Section 48 of The Foreign Exchange Management Act, 1999, says that every rule and regulation made under this Act in order to allow FDI shall be laid before each House of Parliament. Acharia said the Left parties planned to give a notice for moving an adjournment motion on price-rise. Since the rules warranted that the notice be given the same morning, the parties will take the call once the session gets under way.

Lok Sabha Speaker Meira Kumar has convened a meeting of party leaders for November 21 to know the issues they wish to raise during the session.

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