New Delhi: With major Opposition parties like BJP and the Left demanding discussion on FDI in retail under rules that entail voting, Parliamentary Affairs Minister Kamal Nath has convened a meeting of all party leaders of both Houses of Parliament on Monday to discuss the issue.

"The Parliamentary Affairs Minister informed us in the Rajya Sabha Business Advisory Committee (BAC) that he will convene an all-party meeting on Monday. He also said he will talk to all party leaders in Lok Sabha and meet them separately on that day. Then a final call will be taken on the issue," CPI(M) leader Sitaram Yechury told reporters here.

CPI leader D Raja also said Nath had assured BAC that he would meet leaders of all parties on Monday.

However, Yechury made it clear that the Left parties would not budge from their position of seeking a debate on government's decision to open up multi-brand retail to foreign investment under rules entailing voting.

Left parties have already moved notices under Rule 184 in Lok Sabha and Rule 168 in Rajya Sabha seeking disapproval of the government's decision on the issue. Under both rules, a debate is followed by voting on an issue.

Yechury accused the government of "violating" its assurance given in Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha respectively by then Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee and Commerce Minister Anand Sharma in December last year that "FDI in retail would be implemented after consultations with all stakeholders, including political parties and state governments."

In this context, he said CPI(M) MPs today submitted a notice of breach of privilege against Sharma for "contravention" of his assurance that the government had suspended allowing 51 percent FDI in multi-brand retail trade "till a consensus is developed through consultations among various stakeholders".

Terming a discussion under a rule without the voting clause as "a meaningless exercise", Yechury said earlier too, FDI in retail was discussed without voting and the government had given the assurance that it would consult all stakeholders including political parties and state governments.

"But these assurances not only remained unfulfilled but the government decided to allow FDI in retail. So there is no point having a similar exercise once again. A debate on the issue should be followed by voting," he said.

Rebutting statements by Congress leaders that executive decisions cannot be debated under voting rules in Parliament, Yechury said in March 2001 when NDA government had decided to privatise BALCO, a similar motion was moved by then CPI(M) leader Rupchand Pal and voted upon after a discussion.

"Congress itself had supported our motion and voted with us with its senior leader P R Dasmunsi leading the debate. Congress cannot rely on falsification now to deny Parliament its right to discuss and vote upon such an issue like FDI in retail trade which has a vital bearing on the livelihood of at least a fifth of our population," he said. The CPI(M) motion then got defeated.

Castigating Congress for "double standards", Yechury said, "Wiser counsel should prevail and the government should allow voting in the matter."

On Trinamool Congress' no-confidence motion which fell in Lok Sabha at the first stage of admission itself, he said moving such a motion when it was clear that it would not find no place was to "provide an escape route" to the government, instead of making it accountable to Parliament and the people.

"The tactics adopted by TMC, thus serve the interests of not only saving this government but to provide it with a legitimacy to carry forward such anti-people, neo-liberal economic reforms. The Trinamool Congress is acting as the B- team of Congress," the CPI(M) leader said.

On the issue of Samajwadi Party joining the Left and other parties on the issue, he said SP had earlier joined hands with the Left, TDP, JD(S) and BJD in the nationwide strike on the issue. "AIADMK had also separately protested the decision," he said.


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