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House logjam ends, but SP is a riddle

New Delhi, Nov 29, 2012, DHNS: 2:43 IST

Lok Sabha debate on Dec 4-5; RS yet to decide

The impasse in Parliament over FDI in multi-brand retail ended on Thursday with the UPA government giving in to Opposition pressure for voting after debate which will take place on December 4 and 5.

For the UPA, managing the political rivals may have been easier than coping with its allies, the SP and the BSP.

The Samajwadi Party kept the ruling coalition on tenterhooks with its leaders giving confusing opinions on voting. The Bahujan Samaj Party is said to have asked the government to pass the Bill providing quota in promotions for SC/STs as quid pro quo for voting in favour of FDI.

The government may find it not too difficult to get the motion on FDI passed in the Lok Sabha, but voting in the Rajya Sabha may prove tricky as it does not have required numbers in the Upper House. The UPA requires both SP and the BSP voting in favour of the government in the House of Elders on FDI.

SP leader in the Rajya Sabha Ramgopal Yadav said his party, which has nine members in the House, would vote against the government, but this opinion was not shared by his party president Mulayam Singh Yadav. Ramgopal Yadav said: “We will vote against FDI in the Rajya Sabha if the government brings ,” but Mulayam noted in Lucknow: “In politics, the future cannot be foretold. Decisions are taken as per the situation.”

Sources point out that the bargaining was on as SP wanted a financial package for Uttar Pradesh, where it is the ruling party, and provision for Other Backward Classes in the promotion quota in the Bill for SC/STs.

As of now, in the Lok Sabha, which has 545 members with majority mark at 273, UPA enjoys support of 265 members. The SP (22 MPs) and BSP (21) are expected to abstain, thus bringing down the majority mark. While UPA ally DMK is likely to support the government, the Trinamool Congress is likely to oppose it. Some of the opposition NDA parties such as the Janata Dal (United), the Shiv Sena and the Akali Dal have not made their stand clear so far. The BJP, the Left, the Biju Janata Dal, the AIADMK and the TDP will vote against the government. In the Upper House, which has an effective strength of 244 and the majority mark is 123, the government faces a tough task. The UPA has a strength of 95 and can expect support from 10 nominated members, and about four of the seven independents. Since it still requires numbers to reach the magic figure, it needs the SP (9) and BSP (15) to be present in the House and vote in favour of the government. Only then, it can win in the Upper House. Earlier in the day, Lok Sabha Speaker Meira Kumar announced that she has allowed discussion on FDI under Rule 184 which entails voting. Rajya Sabha chairman Hamid Ansari, who had a meeting with all floor leaders of parties, told them that he would allow debate under Rule 168 which also ends with voting.

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