The government blunted all opposition to FDI in multi-brand retail with rivals Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) and Samajwadi Party (SP) ensuring that the motion against inflow of foreign capital is defeated in the Rajya Sabha on Friday.
This paves the way for retail giants like Wal-Mart, Carrefour and Tesco to get a slice in the Rs 2,500-crore retail sector of the country. The government had won the first round in the Lok Sabha on Wednesday, following which the debate was taken up in the Upper House.
While the Mayawati-led BSP with 15 MPs voted in favour of FDI, the SP with nine MPs staged a walkout. Of the 244 members who were present in the Upper House on Friday, 123 voted in favour of FDI and 102 against it. Besides SP members, 10 other members did not participate in the voting.
The voting process suffered a few hiccups initially. After a few members complained that the electronic voting buttons were not working, paper ballot was called for. Some of the members who had voted electronically, voted again through paper ballot, prompting the Congress to demand recounting of the votes.
In the Lok Sabha, the SP and BSP had walked out before the voting. In the Rajya Sabha, the government required the BSP, which has more MPs than the SP, to vote in favour of FDI. The motion was moved by V Maitreyan of the AIADMK.
The Lok Sabha had also passed amendments to the Foreign Exchange Management Act, enabling operationalisation of 51 per cent FDI in multi-brand retail.
The government had asked all the nine nominated members – except Sachin Tendulkar who is playing the Kolkata Test against England – who were present, to ensure a majority in the Rajya Sabha.
Congress MP from Andhra Pradesh N Janardhana Reddy arrived in a wheelchair to vote while Janardhan Waghmare from Maharashtra was brought on a stretcher.
While Reddy entered the House to vote, Waghmare was allowed to vote in the lobby of the House. However, former Congress minister Murli Deora was absent as he recently underwent a surgery.
Immediately after the battle in the Rajya Sabha was won, Parliamentary Affairs Minister Kamal Nath said the government “will now push ahead more reforms.” Bills pertaining to the financial sector will be taken up in Parliament next week.
The government may now bring before Parliament major reforms bills out of the 25 draft legislation pending before it.
Some of the bills are the Banking Laws (Amendment) Bill , Companies Bill (Amendment) 2011, Insurance Laws (Amendment) Bill, Pension Fund Regulatory and Development Authority Bill, Coal Mines (conservation and development) Bill, 2012, Enforcement of Security Interest and Recovery of Debts Laws Bill, Prevention of Bribery of Foreign Public Officials and Officials of Public International Organisations Bill besides others such as the Central Universities Bill, Criminal Law Bill and National Accreditation Regulatory Authority for Higher Education Bill.