Confident UPA set for FDI vote

New Delhi: With DMK firmly on its side, government on Tuesday indicated it was ready for a vote in Parliament on the FDI in retail, signalling a possible end to the House logjam.

Confident of numbers, Parliamentary Affairs Minister Kamal Nath declared that the government was not not averse to discussion on the FDI issue under any rules, remarks that were interpreted as its readiness to face a vote.

He is slated to meet Leaders of Opposition Sushma Swaraj and Arun Jaitley on Wednesday as part of efforts to break the deadlock.

Nath, along with his deputy Rajiv Shukla, met Rajya Sabha Chairman Hamid Ansari to brief him on the meetings of leaders of all parties yesterday and the UPA constituents today. The Parliamentary Affairs Minister will also meet Lok Sabha Speaker.

The government has left the decision on the mode of discussion to the presiding officers. “We are confident of numbers,” Prime Minister Manmohan Singh told reporters after an hour-long meeting of the leaders of UPA, which presented a united picture, as news came from Chennai of DMK extending its support to the government during any voting on the FDI issue.

“The UPA is fully united on any decision of the Speaker and the Government… all constituents are firmly behind the Government,” Parliamentary Affairs Minister Kamal Nath said.

Asked if the government was ready for a vote, Nath said government is “not averse” to discussion under any rules. “I said it yesterday. I am repeating it today,” he said. “Larger numbers (parties at the UPA meeting) were in favour of discussion to be decided by the Speaker,” he said.

However, sources said, government has conveyed to Lok Sabha that it did not favour voting on FDI in retail in Lok Sabha arguing it would send a wrong precedent of voting on an executive decision taken by the government.

At the same time, it has left the decision to the Speaker. Opposition BJP and Left parties insisted 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 on Tuesday. Trinamool Congress with 19 MPs has also been cold towards Opposition demands for a vote on the issue. (PTI)

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