A late-evening meeting between Parliamentary Affairs minister Kamal Nath and BSP general secretary S C Mishra, and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s phone call to SP chief Mulayam Singh Yadav on the eve of the debate in the Rajya Sabha on allowing FDI in multi-brand retail, virtually ensured the upper hand for the government against the opposition motion to defeat the policy decision.
The outcome of the government’s moves was evident Thursday with BSP chief Mayawati launching a frontal attack on the BJP for hinting that her party’s stand to walk out in the Lok Sabha and save the government was linked to the CBI cases against her.
While Mayawati went on to declare that her party would vote with the government on the motion in the upper house, the SP indicated that it would again walk out like it did in the Lok Sabha.
“The remarks that I got to read indicated their shallowness, pettiness and cheap mentality,” Mayawati said referring to comments by leader of opposition in the Lok Sabha, Sushma Swaraj, Wednesday.
The BSP chief cited Swaraj’s barbs for her decision to go one step further in the Rajya Sabha and vote with the government.
Sources said that Mayawati had been seething over Swaraj’s remarks and sensing an opportunity, the Congress reached out to her. Kamal Nath is said to have explained to Mishra to not treat the vote as only to do with FDI but as a vote against BJP. He is also learnt to have stressed that a victory for the opposition would give a handle to the BJP to stall the house, jeopardising the chances of the constitutional amendment bill to provide quotas for SCs and STs in promotions in government jobs, a move being pushed by the BSP.
Also, since the implementation of the retail FDI policy has been left to the states, the BSP was asked to not worry about the political fallout if the party joined hands with the government in the Rajya Sabha.
The meeting is said to have gone late into the night and by the end of it, the Congress came back assured that the BSP would go the extra distance. Both arguments said to have been made by the Congress were echoed in Mayawati’s speech in the house Thursday.
While Mayawati went by the script, the government managed to prevent the SP from defecting to the opposition camp like it had done during the discussion