Bracing for the crucial vote on FDI in Rajya Sabha tomorrow, government today got a shot in the arm with BSP extending support to it, even as BJP and AIADMK attacked it and other such parties for siding with UPA despite being opposed to the move.
Samajwadi Party, whose support would be dearly required by UPA, however, maintained ambiguity over its stance during voting while asking the government to do a rethink on the FDI policy.
The controversial decision on FDI, which was approved convincingly by Lok Sabha yesterday, was hotly debated in an animated manner in the 244-member Upper House where the ruling UPA does not have a majority of its own as its strength is only 94 and is heavily dependent on parties like BSP and SP.
Announcing her party's support to UPA's decision on FDI, BSP chief Mayawati she said, "We have decided to vote in favour of government on FDI in multi-brand retail issue tomorrow." BSP has 15 members in the Rajya Sabha and the party had yesterday staged a walkout in the Lok Sabha, helping bail out the government in the vote.
During the day-long debate that was punctuated by clashes, accusations and counter-accusations, Mayawati said she backs the FDI policy since it "has a plus point as it is not binding on states and they are free to implement it."
Naresh Agrawal of SP, which has nine members, asked the government to have a rethink on the FDI decision, saying it would hurt farmers and small traders, particularly those living in villages.
"We have neither taken the responsibility to save this government nor to bring it down," he said, suggesting that tomorrow's voting can even be avoided.
Agrawal, whose party is in power in Uttar Pradesh, said FDI would not be allowed in the state as it would destroy the livelihood of farmers. In this context, he cited the example of how VAT was not implemented by the party's previous government.
NCP leader Y P Trivedi, whose party is a constituent of UPA and a partner in the Maharashtra government, disapproved of efforts to create a scare over FDI but said its implementation in the state would be decided by Congress-NCP Coordination Committee after assessing its likely impact.
Law Minister Ashwani Kumar, who was the first to speak on the issue on government's behalf, said UPA has taken a "conscious decision" on FDI in multi-brand retail and "at this stage of economic development