The UPA government yesterday dealt a major blow to the opposition in the Rajya Sabha by winning a vote on FDI in retail by 14 votes and declared that there was no stopping India’s reform process.
In contrast to speculation that the government may lose the vote in the upper house, the victory proved pretty easy as the SP trooped out — like in the Lok Sabha on Wednesday — while the BSP voted in favour of FDI in multi-brand retail.
As a disappointed opposition claimed “moral victory” on the strength of the speeches made in the house over two days, Parliamentary Affairs Minister Kamal Nath said after the vote, “Our reforms are on track.”
Commerce Minister Anand Sharma, the main speaker for the government on the contentious issue, took on the opposition after it said the FDI did not have the support of most MPs even if the final vote went in favour of the treasury benches. “We challenge them,” he said. “If we are a minority government, let them bring a no-confidence motion.”
The opposition-backed motion against FDI in retail got 109 votes while the government managed 123.
Minutes before the voting process began, all nine SP members walked out, bailing out the ruling UPA — for a second time in three days.
On Thursday, day one of the debate in the Rajya Sabha, Mayawati took on the BJP and declared triumphantly that 15 MPs of her BSP would vote with the UPA government.
Both the BSP and SP provide legislative support to the Congress-led government.
The government’s move to provide 51 per cent foreign equity in multi-brand retail has long been a contentious issue, stalling almost the entire first two weeks of the winter session of parliament.
With yesterday’s vote, global names like Carrefour, Tesco and Wal-Mart can set up stores in India.
After the Parliament defeat, Communist leader D Raja accused the UPA government of “brazenly” identifying itself “with multinationals and then claims it is with aam admi”.
The AIADMK gave a “solemn assurance” that the next central government would reverse the FDI decision.
While AIADMK leader V Maitreyan, who moved the motion for the debate in the Rajya Sabha, said the final vote on the issue would be cast by the people in the next election.
“I give a solemn assurance that after the next Lok Sabha elections, the next government will reverse the decision of the UPA.
“FDI will only be on paper and will not be implemented in states,” he added.