Getting support once again from the unlikely combination of Mulayam Singh Yadav’s Samajwadi Party (SP) and Mayawati’s Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP), the government won the day in the Rajya Sabha by 14 votes.
In the House, the opposition-backed motion got 109 votes and the government 123 votes. One member, cricketer Sachin Tendulkar, was away playing a match against England in Kolkata.
Minutes before the voting process began, the SP walked out of the House with its nine MPs, bailing out the ruling United Progressive Alliance (UPA) — as it had when the Lok Sabha voted on the issue.
The government’s win on getting 51 percent foreign equity in multi-brand retail has long been a contentious issue, stalling almost the entire first two weeks of the winter session of Parliament.
With this, global names like Carrefour, Tesco and Wal-Mart will set up stores in India.
Opposition, govt clash during FDI debate in Rajya Sabha
The debate on FDI in Rajya Sabha saw clashes between government and the opposition, which accused commerce minister Anand Sharma of misleading the House and demanded an apology.
The uproar led to abrupt adjournment of the House for over an hour while the minister was speaking on the motion moved against bringing FDI in retail sector.
Trouble started when Sharma read out excerpts of a Planning Commission report citing recommendations of a committee headed by N K Singh during the NDA regime in 2002, suggesting up to 100 per cent FDI in retail be brought in as it will benefit both consumers and farmers.
Singh, now a JD(U) member, rose to counter Sharma’s contention, who refused to yield to him. As the chair did not allow the JD(U) member to speak, the entire opposition, including members from Left, TMC and NDA, were on their feet demanding that they wanted to hear Singh’s version.
Targetting the commerce minister, leader of the opposition Arun Jaitley said, “The minister has said that N K Singh in his capacity as chairman of the committee has supported FDI in multi-brand retail. He cannot play up one paragraph. You are reading the preamble and not the conclusion…please allow him (Singh) to speak.”
The entire opposition also supported Singh who said what the minister read out was not the conclusion of the report and that Sharma had misled the House for which the government should apologise.
This saw BJP members raise slogans, “Anand Sharma maafi maango…Bharat Sarkar maafi maango…Anand Sharma has misled the House”.
As the din continued despite his repeated persuasion, Deputy Chairman P J Kurien adjourned the House till 2:30pm.
Replying to the debate, Sharma earlier rejected the opposition contention that FDI in multi-brand retail will render small traders unemployed and damage the interests of farmers.
Sharma claimed that 11 states and major farmer and trader organisations had favoured allowing FDI in retail and claimed he had held discussions with various states before taking the decision to allow FDI.