With the government agreeing to the demand for discussion on FDI in retail trade under a provision that will entail voting in both houses of Parliament to break the logjam, the pressure mounted on Mulayam Singh Yadav-led Samajwadi Party on Thursday to avoid an embarrassment for the party given his public posturing against the move.
The SP leadership appeared trying to project its commitment to oppose FDI in retail that gave hopes to the BJP’s plans to embarrass the government in the Rajya Sabha. “We will vote against FDI in Rajya Sabha if the government brings it there,” senior party leader Ram Gopal Yadav told reporters. However, he refrained from committing the same in the Lok Sabha, indicating that the party need not vote against the government in the lower House. “Ask our leaders from Lok Sabha,” he said, replying to a question.
Mulayam evaded a direct reply over SP’s stance in the event of voting on the issue in the Lok Sabha next week. “As far as FDI issue is concerned, our party is strongly opposed to it,” he said in Lucknow.
While Mulayam’s ambiguity over party’s voting preference in the Lok Sabha provided comfort to the ruling side, party leader in Rajya Sabha Ram Gopal Yadav’s declaration to vote against FDI in the Rajya Sabha gave hope for the BJP to corner the government in the upper house.
The BJP’s hopes relied heavily on its assessment that Mayawati’s BSP will abstain from voting. While Mayawati said she will “disclose our strategy on the floor of the House only”, BSP sources said the mood in the party leaned towards abstaining.
“Going by the numerical strength of different political parties in the upper house, the abstaining of SP and BSP members alone will bring the government to a precarious situation. The ruling side can hope to save the day only if one of these two parties supported it on FDI,” said a senior BJP leader.
The situation in Lok Sabha, in contrast, appeared in favour of the Congress with BSP indicating it will abstain while Mulayam evaded commitment to vote against FDI. “We will strongly oppose the FDI in retail trade, but we will find it difficult to vote alongside the BJP,” senior party leader Mohan Singh said.
While Singh’s argument has been used by the party in the past as well to bail out the government in critical situations, Yadav’s assertion to vote against the