UPA gets BSP support in Rajya Sabha
With the Bahujan Samajwadi Party (BSP) declaring that it will vote in the Rajya Sabha in favour of FDI in multi-brand retail, the UPA government is set to win the battle in Parliament. The SP is likely to abstain.
The Centre received a shot in the arm on Thursday as Bahujan Samaj Party supremo Mayawati said in the Upper House: "We have decided to vote in favour of government on FDI in multi-brand retail issue on Friday." Defending her stand, Mayawati said: “...cannot side with communal forces (read BJP).”
Voting in the the Upper House will take place on Friday.
The BSP and Samajwadi Party have already bailed out the UPA government in the Lok Sabha by staging a walkout prior to voting.
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh expressed confidence that the UPA government will romp home. “I am confident of numbers,” he remarked.
Parliamentary Affairs Minister Kamal Nath told reporters: “I am fully confident that the BJP's politics will be defeated. The Congress won in the Lok Sabha and we will win in the Rajya Sabha as well. Numbers are close, but clear.”
The UPA had a comfortable victory in the Lower House on Wednesday, but the Upper House, where it is in a minority, was a cause for worry.
The UPA has 94 members in the Upper House which has an effective strength of 244, with the half-way mark being 123. With independents, nominated members and others, the UPA strength is likely to command around 105. If the 15 BSP members vote for the government, the numbers will rise to 120 and absence of nine members of SP would bring down the majority mark to 118.
The possibility of 3-4 absentees may further reduce the half-way mark.
The NDA parties opposing FDI, which include the BJP, the JD(U), the Shiv Sena and the Shiromani Akali Dal, have 65 votes. The Left, the Biju Janata Dal, the Asom Gana Parishad, the AIADMK and the Telugu Desam which are also opposed, make it 107.
The BJP attacked the BSP for changing its stand.