On debate-eve, Maya hints at support to govt

BSP chief Mayawati Monday hinted that her party would bail out the Congress-led UPA in Parliament during the vote on allowing FDI in multi-brand retail by invoking the threat of "communalism" from the BJP and its partners.

The veiled offer of support from the former Uttar Pradesh chief minister came as the Congress scrambled to get its own numbers in the Lok Sabha in place before the house begins discussing Tuesday a motion moved by the BJP and the CPI(M) opposing the controversial FDI decision.

Mamata Banerjee's Trinamool Congress, which blamed the FDI decision among others to quit the UPA, also sought to distance itself from the BJP by moving a separate motion that seeks modification of the FEMA notification needed to allow FDI in multi-brand retail.

"As a party opposed to FDI, we had to move this modification and any party which claims to be opposed to FDI in retail but has not moved the modification is only pretending to oppose the move in totality," TMC member Saugata Roy, who moved the motion, told The Indian Express.

The TMC decision is seen as an attempt by the party to maintain distance from the Left as well as the BJP for now.

In what is being seen as a defensive move, the government has got the motion seeking modification of the FEMA notification clubbed with the discussion on FDI in multi-brand retail to prevent the opposition from seeking a separate vote on it at a later date.

But the posturing by the BJP, Left-parties and the TMC is less likely to worry the ruling establishment as it drew comfort from Mayawati's discovery of "one plus-point" and another unconnected political factor to base her mood in favour of the government.

"The only plus-point is that if a state does not want to implement the FDI policy, then it will not be forcefully imposed. Our party has taken serious note of this," Mayawati told a press conference even as she pointed at loopholes in the government's move on FDI in multi-brand retail.

"Our party is also seriously thinking whether it should be standing with those parties that encourage communal forces...It is likely that BJP & co will pilot (the motion of voting on FDI). We'll have to see that we don't send a wrong message," she said.

"We will keep these two important factors in mind while taking the right and proper decision in the interest of the country," she said, adding that the BSP is also waiting to hear the government's reply during the discussion.

Mayawati also sought to delink the BSP's stand from its demand for a constitutional amendment to provide reservation for SCs and STs in promotions in government jobs. "We have not put any such condition," she said when asked if the BSP's bailout of the UPA was a quid pro quo from the government on the issue of the amendment that is vehemently opposed by Mulayam Singh Yadav's SP.

The government, on its part, tried to keep Mayawati in good humour by asserting its commitment to providing such quotas. "The government is committed to the constitution amendment bill," Parliamentary Affairs minister Kamal Nath said.

While she acknowledged the importance of FDI, the BSP chief questioned various arguments extended by the government in favour of the move.

She said the BSP did not find any merit in the argument that FDI in multi-brand retail will be allowed only in large cities with a population of over 10 lakh, saying that MNCs will naturally choose only cities with a large consumer base. "My party's position is that farmers, traders, labourers, small industries and factories will be adversely impacted by this move. It has the potential to lead us to economic slavery," she said.

The Samajwadi Party continued to keep its cards close to its chest on the proposed vote. Party sources said the SP would register its strong objection to the move but was unlikely to upset the UPA applecart on similar grounds as Mayawati.

Meanwhile, the Congress issued a three-line whip to ensure the presence of its MPs during voting on Wednesday and was also making hectic efforts to ensure that its MPs from the Telangana region do not absent themselves. Home minister Sushilkumar Shinde and Parliamentary Affairs minister Kamal Nath were learnt to have convened a meeting of Telangana MPs, including ministers from the region, to ensure their presence.

Karimnagar MP Ponnam Prabhakar said that party MPs wanted an immediate decision on their demand for Telangana statehood. Telangana MPs have always fallen in line during voting in Parliament and the Congress's floor managers are likely to rein them in this time as well given their grouse against the high command for not spelling out its stand on Telangana.

Please read our terms of use before posting comments
TERMS OF USE: The views expressed in comments published on indianexpress.com are those of the comment writer's alone. They do not represent the views or opinions of The Indian Express Group or its staff. Comments are automatically posted live; however, indianexpress.com reserves the right to take it down at any time. We also reserve the right not to publish comments that are abusive, obscene, inflammatory, derogatory or defamatory.