Though the Trinamool Congress’s move to table a no-confidence motion in the Lok Sabha against the government is yet to get support of other parties, the UPA goverment is likely to face a tough time in Parliament as both the BJP and the CPM are set to insist on voting on a resolution opposing FDI in multi-brand retail.
The BJP-led NDA on Tuesday decided to move a resolution in the Lok Sabha, disapproving the UPA government’s decision on allowing FDI in multi-brand retail. The Opposition alliance also decided that the resolution would be moved under such provision of the Rules of Procedure and Conduct of Business in the Lok Sabha so that it entails voting. The CPM has already declared that it was in favour of moving such a resolution under Rule 184 that requires voting.
The NDA, however, also added that it could even explore the option of bringing a no-confidence motion against the government. The BJP does not want to upset the TMC, as it is keen to have an alliance ahead of the 2014 Lok Sabha polls.
Trinamool supremo and West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee had over the past few days reached out to the BJP as well as her arch rivals, the CPM and other Left parties, seeking support for a no-confidence motion against the government.
The CPM already turned down the TMC plea, arguing that such a motion would rather help the UPA government, as the Samajwadi Party and the Bahujan Samaj Party would help it sail through the trial of strength. A section of the BJP is of the same opinion. The TMC, which has 19 MPs in the Lok Sabha, needs the support of 54 members of the Lower House of Parliament to get its no-confidence motion admitted.
The Congress claimed that the government had the support of over 300 MPs in the 545-member Lok Sabha. “We are confident of our numbers... We are not a government without numbers. As and when required, we will establish it on the floor of the House,” Parliamentary Affairs Minister Kamal Nath said.
But the government may face a real challenge if the NDA and the Left parties move the resolution opposing FDI in multi-brand retail under Rule 184 and seek voting. Since the BSP and the SP, which has 21 and 22 MPs respectively, earlier joined the clamour against the UPA government’s decision on allowing foreign capital in the sector, both the parties might abstain from voting.
The Dravida Munnetra Kazagham, the Congress’ partner in the UPA, might do the same, as it has also been opposing the government’s decision on FDI in multi-brand retail. The southern party has 18 MPs in the Lok Sabha.
In case the Samajwadi Party, Bahujan Samaj Party and the DMK abstain, the government would have to work hard and depend on smaller parties to cross the halfway mark of 241.
Unlike in the case of no-confidence motion, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh will not have to resign in case the voting on the resolution under Rule 184 takes place against his government.
It would, however, still be seen as a moral defeat for the government, as it has so far been steadfastly rejecting the Opposition parties’ demand for rollback of its decision on FDI in multi-brand retail.
Kamal Nath on Tuesday reiterated that the UPA argument that an executive decision on a policy issue – like allowing foreign capital – had never been voted upon in Parliament. When it was pointed out that Congress had in 2001 pressed for discussion on the decision on disinvestment in the then state-owned Bharat Aluminium Company Limited (BALCO), Nath said: “That was not on a policy issue. That was not on a framework issue. That was on a singular matter.”
The Winter Session of Parliament commences on Thursday. Nath had a meeting with chief whips of all the political parties on Tuesday, when Kalyan Banerjee of the TMC mentioned that his party would move a no-confidence motion against Government.
The representatives of other parties however did not make any comment pledging support to the TMC’s move. Sources said that Kalyan Banerjee also wondered why the UPA Government – despite being minority – lined up so many Bills for passage and introduction during the coming session of Parliament.
The TMC quit the UPA on September 21 last protesting against the Government’s decision to open up the multi-brand retail sector for foreign capital and to put a cap on usage of subsidized cooking gas cylinders.