New Delhi: Lok Sabha Speaker Meira Kumar on Thursday gave her nod to a debate under voting rules on the issue of foreign direct investment in multi-brand retail.

BJP to press for FDI debate in RS

"I have received 30 notices for discussion on FDI in multi-brand retail under Rule 184. I have admitted the motion to allow the discussion. Debate will be held on December 4 and 5," the Speaker announced in the House.

Her observation came minutes after the Leader of the House Sushilkumar Shinde, Parliamentary Affairs Minister Kamalnath
and Leader of the Opposition Sushma Swaraj met her in her chamber before the House met for the day.

Swaraj thanked the Speaker for allowing BJP's motion and assured that the House will run smoothly.

"I thank you for allowing the motion and I assure you that now the house will run smoothly," she said.

Both houses of Parliament have been seeing disruptions since the winter session began Nov 22, with the opposition adamant on a debate on the issue under rules that entail voting.

After meeting the Leaders of Opposition Sushma Swaraj and Arun Jaitley on Wednesday, Parliamentary Affairs Minister Kamal Nath had hinted that the government had no problem with voting in the House over the FDI issue.

"Presiding officers can take any decision they want in the interest of running Parliament," Nath said after the meeting.

Insisting that numbers were "not a worry" for the government, he said that the MPs are responsible enough to decide (in favour of the issue).

The meeting with the Leaders of the Opposition saw BJP insisting on a discussion under a rule that entails voting alleging that the government had committed gross neglect of Parliament by not adhering to its commitment of consulting all stakeholders before taking a decision on FDI in multi-brand retail.

Besides BJP, the Left parties, BJD, AIADMK, TDP have been demanding that the discussion on FDI should be followed by voting.

While in Lok Sabha, the government appears to be comfortably placed in the numbers game with promise of support from SP and BSP and DMK's open backing. Trinamool Congress with 19 MPs has also been cold towards Opposition demands for a vote on the issue.

In the Lower House, at present the UPA enjoys the support of about 265 MPs in Lok Sabha of 545. With the support of Samajwadi Party (22) and BSP (21), the backing for the ruling coalition goes a little over 300, which is comfortable over the required 273.

However in Rajya Sabha, where the UPA coalition does not have the numbers on its own, it may have problems in case of a vote.

In a House with an effective strength of 244, the UPA and its allies have a strength of about 94 members.

There are ten nominated members who may vote with the government. Among the seven Independents, three or four may go with the government.

Still the ruling coalition may have to persuade outside supporters BSP (15) and SP (9) to positively vote with the government to avoid any last-minutes hitches.


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