FDI debate in Lok Sabha today

The Lok Sabha will take up the discussion on FDI in retail Today.

With voting on FDI in retail becoming a crucial issue in Parliament, BJP and Congress are leaving no stone unturned to muster their numbers and issued three-line whips to their MPs on Monday.

Both the major parties have asked their members to be present in the House and vote according to their party diktat.

While Congress is making all out efforts to bring its constituents and outside support on board, the entire BJP-led NDA is united in opposing the FDI decision.

The Left parties, AIADMK, BJD, AGP and some other parties are also against the decision.

Left leaders are confident that their MPs will turn out in full numbers following the decision taken by all the four parties to oppose the FDI move.

At present, the government enjoys the support of around 265 MPs, including 18 of DMK, in the 545-member Lok Sabha. With the support of Samajwadi Party (22) and BSP (21), the backing for the ruling coalition goes a little over 300, against the half-way mark of 273.

Though the UPA government is confident of sailing through in the lower house, it does not have the required numbers in the Rajya Sabha.

The role of the Samajwadi Party (SP) and the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP), which support the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government from outside, would be crucial in the Rajya Sabha, sources said.

SP leader Ram Gopal Yadav surprised everyone last week by saying, "If there is a vote on FDI in Rajya Sabha, we will vote against it. We will not let it pass."

Minister of state for parliamentary affairs Rajeev Shukla said, "We are in touch with both the SP and the BSP. We hope they will vote in favour of FDI in retail."

BSP chief Mayawati said that her party does not support FDI and would decide how to vote on the "floor of house" December 5.

"Inviting FDI in retail without clauses for the use of local produce would mean an invitation to foreigners to earn maximum profits here. FDI in retail will affect farmers and small traders," she told reporters.

Of the total 245 members in the Rajya Sabha, the UPA has a strength of 90. With 27 outside supporters from the BSP, SP, Lok Janshakti Party and the Rashtriya Janata Dal, the government tally stands at 117 as against the magical 123 figure for majority.

The opposition claims the support of 110 members. Besides, there are seven independents, five from smaller parties and 10 nominated.

The BJP and CPI-M had submitted separate notices for a debate with a voting provision.

The CPI-M also wants a vote on amendments to FEMA, tabled in the Lok Sabha Friday. Both houses of parliament have seen repeated disruptions on the issue since the winter session began Nov 22.