BSP, SP keep govt guessing on FDI vote
Ahead of the debate and vote in Parliament, outside UPA allies--BSP and SP--today kept the government guessing on their support on the issue of FDI in retail.
As Lok Sabha takes up discussion tomorrow on the FDI issue with a provision for voting on Wednesday, BSP supremo Mayawati and SP chief Mulayam Singh Yadav sent mixed signals but government expressed confidence it has the numbers and will win the floor test.
Addressing a press conference here, she gave indications that she could support the FDI policy by noting some positive points of the FDI policy but still refused to disclose her strategy. "BSP's decision on voting will be disclosed on the floor of Parliament when the issue comes up for voting. ....The only plus point of this policy of the Centre is that if a state does not not want to implement the FDI policy then it will not not be forcefully imposed on that state.
"Our party has taken serious note of this. Our party is also seriously thinking whether it should be standing with those parties that encourage communal forces, Mayawati said. BSP has 21 members in Lok Sabha and 15 in Rajya Sabha, where government needs the positive vote of both the parties to defeat the Opposition motion. The SP has 22 members in Lok Sabha and 5 in Rajya Sabha.
Mayawati's remarks today are seen as an attempt to put pressure on the government to promise early passage of the Constitution amendment bill providing for reservation in promotion for Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes in government service, an issue the SP is strongly opposed to.
On his part, SP supremo Mulayam Singh Yadav also declined to open his cards. "We will oppose FDI, which is already understood. Why do you want me to speak. What I have to say I will say in the Lok Sabha," he told reporters when asked what his party would do in the two Houses.
Lok Sabha will have discussion tomorrow and the day after while the Rajya Sabha will debate it on December 6 and 7. In a bid to woo BSP, Parliamentary Affairs Minister Kamal Nath declared that the government was committed to the Constitution amendment bill.
At present, the government enjoys the support of around 265 MPs, including 18 of DMK, in the 545-member Lok Sabha. It needs the support of 273 to cross the half-way mark in case all the members are present and voting. In case Samajwadi Party (22) and BSP (21) back the government, the support for ruling coalition will go upto a little over 300.
UPA does not have the numbers on its own in the Upper House, which has an effective strength of 244. UPA and its allies have a strength of 94 members. The ten nominated members may go ahead to vote with the government. Among the seven independents, three or four may support the government.
The ruling coalition may have to persuade outside supporters BSP (15) and SP (9) to vote with the government. However, the Left parties were critical of the SP and BSP and claimed that the government appears to have "arranged" the votes through "wholesale trading".