New Delhi: Retaining the Lok Sabha victory, the Congress-led UPA government on Friday defeated the Opposition’s motion against Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) in multi-brand retail in Rajya Sabha.
123 members voted against the motion while 109 voted in favour after a two-day animated debate during which the Opposition attacked the proposal to allow 51 percent FDI in multi-brand retail, while the government strongly justified it saying it was in the best interest of the country.
Samajwadi Party, which has nine members in the House, staged a walkout expressing dissatisfaction over Commerce Minister Anand Sharma's reply. Bahujan Samaj Party appeared standing with the government over the issue. Mayawati chose to vote in favour of the UPA government.
The defeat of the motion moved by AIADMK member V Maitreyan in the Rajya Sabha came two days after the Lok Sabha voted out a similar motion, paving the way for entry of global supermarkets like Walmart into the country.
The government's victory in Rajya Sabha, where UPA lacks a majority of its own, came with the help of 15-member BSP, which had walked out of the Lok Sabha during voting on the issue. UPA has 94 members in the Upper House which has an effective strength of 244.
Sachin Tendulkar, nominated member who is playing test match in Kolkata, Murli Deora (Cong), who is unwell, and rebel BJD leader Pyari Mohan Mahapatra were absent.
Replying to the debate, Maitreyan insisted that majority of the House was not in favour of FDI in multi-brand retail. He said voting did not take place on "merits of the issue, but other considerations...It is a victory of the minority."
Earlier, Sharma maintained that the move was essential for the country's growth and rejected the opposition contention that it would hurt the small retailers and farmers and harm the manufacturing sector.
The division of votes was marred by some technical glitches because of which the exercise had to be done again. The animated debate saw clashes between government and the opposition as the sides put forth their arguments and counter arguments.
Sharma questioned BJP's opposition to FDI in retail saying that when the party was in power, it had plans to allow FDI in retail up to the extent of 100 percent, which was countered vociferously by members from the BJP including Leader of the Opposition Arun Jaitley.
To justify his arguments, Sharma cited a report of a Committee of Planning Commission in 2002 headed by N K Singh, now a JD-U member of Rajya Sabha.
Sharma said the report had favoured up to 100 per cent FDI in retail be brought in as it will benefit both consumers and farmers.
Singh wanted to respond to it but the minister refused to yield leading to pandemonium with Trinamool Congress and Left showing solidarity with Singh and slamming the minister.
|FDI DEBATE IN RAJYA SABHA|
DAY 2: UPA wins FDI test; bags 123 votes against
Opposition's 109 votes
Bahujan Samaj Party:
DAY 2: HIGHLIGHTS
Debate resume as Sharma yields
Rajya Sabha adjourned till 2:30 pm following uproar
Commerce Minister Anand Sharma defends government
DAY 1: HIGHLIGHTS
TMC: Derek O' Brien
CPI(M): Sitaram Yechury
FDI debate resumes in RS
BSP: Mayawati's arguments
BJP: Arun Jaitley, Leader of Opposition
AIADMK: V Maitreyan
|UPA wins FDI vote in Lok Sabha|
|SP members walk out of Lok Sabha|
|Govt used CBI to win FDI vote: Opposition|
|PM welcomes FDI vote in Lok Sabha|
|Treasury benches jubilant after FDI vote|
An angry Opposition accused Sharma of misleading the House and demanded an apology from the government as Singh said that the report had concluded that FDI in multi-brand retail was not in interest of the nation at this time.
The uproar led to abrupt adjournment of the House for over an hour.
Targeting Sharma, Jaitley said, "The Minister has said that N K Singh in his capacity as Chairman of the Committee has supported FDI in multi-brand retail. He cannot play up one paragraph. You are reading the preamble and not the conclusion...please allow him (Singh) to speak."
When the House re-assembled, the minister said his contention was misunderstood but he wanted to ask why the proposal was not taken forward.
Responding to the Opposition's criticism of FDI, Sharma accused Opposition of creating a scare over the issue and rejected Jaitley's contention that the measure will lead to India becoming a nation of sales boys and sales girls. "You have scared foreign investors, who want to visit India," he said.
Sharma also took strong objection to Jaitley's remarks on Thursday challenging Union Minister Kapil Sibal to get such a super store in his Parliamentary seat Chandni Chowk and see the result in next Lok Sabha election and asked Jaitley to contest against Sibal from there in the next election.
V Maitreyan, who had initiated the debate, said that even if the government is able to defeat the motion in Rajya Sabha "I give a solemn assurance to this House that after the next election, the next government will reverse the decision of the UPA."
He also said that even Government wins in this House it will be "Anand Sharma loses, Kamalnath wins". Because, if the government wins it is going to be the victory of management and not the policy because the majority of speakers in the House have opposed the policy.
His remark that he rises "to perform the last rites of UPA's policy of FDI in multi-brand retail" drew angry protests from Congress members. Sharma earlier rejected the Opposition charge that the government did not consult political parties on the issue.
"I met 14 Chief Ministers and held discussions with them. I went to Punjab and met Akali leader and Chief Minister Parkas Singh Badal. I also met Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik and West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Bannerjee, who is also the Trinamool Congress chief. I met Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar. I also wrote to all Chief Ministers and 19 of them responded."
UPA win in Lower House
In a major setback, opposition’s motion against FDI in retail was defeated in Lok Sabha on Wednesday evening. A total number of 253 votes were given in favour of FDI while 218 votes were casted against FDI.
The halfway mark was brought down by huge number from 273 to 251 when SP and BSP member walk out before voting in Lok Sabha.