The deadlock in Parliament over FDI in multi-brand retail ended Thursday after presiding officers of both houses agreed to allow discussions on the contentious issue under provisions that entail voting.
The government is expected to sail through the floor test in the Lok Sabha, but the scene in the Rajya Sabha is still unclear as the UPA is not in a majority there. The Samajwadi Party, which had earlier agreed to back the government in the Lok Sabha, has vowed to vote against the move in the Rajya Sabha.
Notwithstanding the tussle over voting, the opposition did not appear to be mobilising its numbers to try and defeat the government on the issue in either House.
The BJP is hit by dissensions, particularly in Karnataka. It is not certain how many MPs from the state will stick with the party leadership and how many would side with B S Yeddyurappa, who has said that he would quit the BJP and form his own outfit.
Most Gujarat MPs are busy with assembly elections in their state and it is not certain how many will make it to the capital when voting takes place.
Parliamentary affairs minister Kamal Nath seemed to be aware of the roadblocks which awaited him when he had conveyed to the leaders of the opposition Sushma Swaraj and Arun Jaitley Wednesday that he was ready for a discussion under rule 184 - which entails voting - in the lower house.
He was reluctant to facilitate a similar exercise in the Rajya Sabha - under Rule 168 - because he was not sure of his numbers there. However, the government had to give in to the opposition demand to ensure uniformity in its position in both houses.
As soon as the Lok Sabha met Thursday morning, Speaker Meira Kumar said, “I have received 30 notices for discussion on FDI in multi-brand retail under rule 184...I have admitted the motion to allow the discussion...the date and the time will be decided later.”
The discussion was then scheduled for December 4 and 5. This will be followed by a discussion under rule 168 in the Rajya Sabha. The timing will be decided later.
Kumar’s announcement was preceded by a meeting of home minister and leader of the house Sushilkumar Shinde, Kamal Nath and Swaraj in her chamber. “I welcome the decision...I assure you of smooth functioning of the house,” Swaraj said after the Speaker’s announcement.
The Rajya Sabha adjourned for