Exactly a year after the government was forced to put on hold its decision to allow 51 per cent FDI in multi-brand retail, the UPA Friday won a hugely symbolic and significant vote in favour of the decision in the Rajya Sabha with the help of the BSP and the Samajwadi Party.
While the BSP, as announced, voted with the government against the opposition motion seeking withdrawal of the decision to allow 51 per cent FDI in multi-brand retail, the SP walked out of the house. A similar motion was defeated in the Lok Sabha Wednesday.
The outcome of the vote was on expected lines as the BSP, which has 15 members, had made it clear Thursday that it would bail the government out in the upper house, where the numbers are not in the favour of the UPA. But the absence of three TDP members - including its leader in the house T Devender Goud - during voting came as a surprise.
Suspended JD(U) MP Upendra Kushwaha voted for the government. Party leader Shivanand Tiwari said it would move for his disqualification for violation of the party whip. JMM MP Sanjiv Kumar too was absent.
The TDP had strongly opposed FDI in multi-brand retail and its chief Chandrababu Naidu had courted arrest along with Left leaders as part of a nationwide bandh called by opposition parties in September. TDP leaders were at a loss to explain the absence of Goud, Y S Chowdary and Gundu Sudharani during the vote, which came after two days of intense and acrimonious debate.
The motion moved by the AIADMK’s V Maitreyan was defeated by a margin of 14 votes. While the opposition promptly accused the government of indulging in political manoeuvering to win the vote, the government heaved a huge sigh of relief and indicated that it would announce more reform measures.
Commerce minister Anand Sharma described it as a decisive victory for the government. Parliamentary Affairs minister Kamal Nath termed the outcome a “rejection” of the BJP’s politics and hinted the government would bring more reform bills. “Certainly, we are going to bring in more legislation in the coming weeks in Parliament and we will be engaging all political parties on it,” Nath said when asked whether the vote was a signal for more reforms.
Of the total 232 votes cast, the UPA managed 123 against the 109 of the opposition that included the BJP-led NDA, Left, AIADMK, Trinamool