Smooth sailing for govt on retail FDI vote in Rajya Sabha

Rajya Sabha

Commerce minister Anand Sharma described it as a decisive victory for the government. Parliamentary Affairs minister Kamal Nath termed the outcome a "rejection" of the BJP's politics and hinted the government would bring more reform bills. "Certainly, we are going to bring in more legislation in the coming weeks in Parliament and we will be engaging all political parties on it," Nath said when asked whether the vote was a signal for more reforms.

Of the total 232 votes cast, the UPA managed 123 against the 109 of the opposition that included the BJP-led NDA, Left, AIADMK, Trinamool Congress and the BJD. The final tally could, however, change as the numbers did not add up. The government has sought a recalculation of votes.

According to the final tally which is subject to correction, 232 votes were cast. On the other hand, 17 members - including nine SP members who walked out - were absent. This takes the total number to 249, while the present strength of the house is 244.

Apart from the TDP members, JD(U)'s Bashistha Narain Singh, Congress' Murli Deora, expelled BJD leader Pyarimohan Mohapatra and nominated member Sachin Tendulkar were also absent. While Singh had taken permission to stay away because of a wedding in his family, Deora is unwell.

Before the voting, the house witnessed opposition and treasury benches clashing several times. It plunged into turmoil and had to be adjourned after Sharma said a Planning Commission report prepared in 2002 by a committee headed by N K Singh - now a JD(U) MP - had recommended FDI in the retail sector.

Singh countered him, but with Sharma not yielding, the entire opposition came to his support. NDA members led by leader of the opposition Arun Jaitley demanded an apology from Sharma for "misleading" the house, resulting in the disruption.

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