New Delhi: An all party meeting to break the deadlock in Parliament over the issue of FDI in retail has begun in New Delhi on Monday.
Government has convened the meeting amid vehement protests in both Houses of Parliament especially by the main opposition party BJP and Left. Both the parties are pressing for discussions in the Houses under the rules which entail voting.
Convened by Parliamentary Affairs Minister Kamal Nath, the meeting comes at a time when the first two days of the winter session last week saw Parliament being paralysed on the issue.
The stalemate has continued since the start of the session on November 22 with the government showing no signs of yielding to the opposition demand.
There has been no word from the government on whether it would accept the opposition demand, but UPA floor managers are said to be working overtime to ensure adequate numbers to ward off any threat in the event of a vote.
Leader of Opposition in the Lok Sabha Sushma Swaraj has insisted on a vote on the issue saying this was necessary because the government has violated its assurance in Parliament that FDI in multi-brand retail will not be implemented till a consensus is reached among all stakeholders.
Parliament members can express their opinion only this way and "that is why we are pressing for a discussion under Rule 184," which entails voting, is the refrain of Swaraj. The Left also wants a discussion under rule 184.
The problems of the government have been further compounded by the DMK. Party chief M Karunanidhi had told reporters in Chennai recently that his party does not favour the decision to allow FDI in multi-brand retail.
The opposition move has also seen fissures in its camp with SP and BSP maintaining an ambivalent position on the issue.
Trinamool Congress members had last week made a failed bid to bring forward a no-confidence motion against the government, while the Left and the Right have made a common cause in Parliament against the government's decision on allowing 51 per cent FDI in multi-brand retail.
The issue of SC/ST promotions in government jobs raised by the BSP and opposed by SP in Parliament, especially in the Rajya Sabha is being seen in Opposition circles as one which is beneficial for the government at this juncture.
At present, the government enjoys the support of about 265 MPs, including 18 of DMK, in a house 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 in Lok Sabha.