the thought to be converted into vote that will be engraved in the history of Lok Sabha," Swaraj said, lamenting that this did not seem happening as some parties like SP and BSP which vehemently opposed the entry of FDI in retail had already walked out to avoid voting on the issue.
While seeking to reach out to wider opposition camp, she said it was not a vote on communal or secular lines but about the interest of the country.
After the voting, she told reporters that the government "won technically but lost on moral grounds."
The Commerce Minister said out of 21 states which responded to the Centre's communication on the issue, 11 supported in writing the move to open multi-brand retail.
Only 7 states opposed the proposal, while few sought clarifications, he said, adding that he personally met PunjabChief Minister Prakash Singh Badal, Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik and West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee.
In the backdrop of the federal structure of the country, he said, the Centre decided to leave the final decision on states whether to allow foreign investment in retail.
"No one can take away the right of an elected government to take decision", he said adding the decision was taken after discussions with the stakeholders.
"Consensus means general agreement and not unanimity," he said.
Participating in the debate, BJP leader Murli Manohar Joshi said his party was for "retail democracy and not retail dictatorship" and warned that people would not tolerate such an action.
Govt lists facts, BJP targets fence-sitters
(Express News Service) The Opposition and government battled it out in the Lok Sabha over FDI in multi-brand retail on Tuesday, with Leader of the Opposition Sushma Swaraj warning that it would lead to more unemployment, impoverished farmers and dissatisfied consumers. In his forceful rebuttal, Telecom Minister Kapil Sibal contended that the government had enough safety nets in place and the decision would actually result in better infrastructure while eliminating middlemen.
Both sides threw barbs at each other over changing positions on the issue but Swaraj made a more political speech, obviously with the objective of trying to draw votes away from the government. Sibal, on the other hand, focused on demolishing the opposition’s arguments and clarifying the fineprint of the policy.
Seeking to reassure members and win them over, Swaraj said that a defeat on the FDI vote would not bring down the government and claimed that it would only force a rollback of