Voting on FDI a key demand, says BJP

A day after the Prime Minister’s efforts to break the logjam between the government and the opposition on the FDI voting issue, the BJP on Friday said it would continue to insist on discussion and subsequent voting on the issue in the all-party meeting to take place two days later.

The government, however, is holding strong on the issue, keen not to concede to the opposition on the issue.

“The government is ready for a debate on FDI issue but without a vote. We are working a way out of the logjam,” Home Minister and leader of Lok Sabha Sushilkumar Shinde said.
The Congress is trying to isolate the BJP on the issue.

BJP spokesperson Shahnawaz Hussain told reporters: "our stand in the all-party meeting on Monday will be that the debate should be under Rule 184 (which requires voting) in Lok Sabha".

Similarly, the party also wants the issue to be debated in Rajya Sabha under Rule 167 to ensure division of votes – which is to find out which party is voting for or against or abstaining and build a larger opposition group.

Top BJP sources said Sushma Swaraj and Arun Jaitley, leaders of opposition in the Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha respectively, who attended Thursday’s dinner meeting with the Prime Minister along with BJP leader L K Advani, reiterated their stand on opening up the retail sector.  

They highlighted former Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee’s assurance on December 7, 2011 to the Lok Sabha that FDI in multi-brand retail is “is suspended till a consensus is developed through consultation amongst various stakeholders”.

Mukherjee, who has subsequently become President, had later clarified that by stakeholders; he meant chief ministers and political parties. BJP sources revealed that when one of the BJP leaders pointed this out, a cabinet minister who was present in the prime minister’s dinner meet, said that assurance did not include all political parties and chief ministers.

Finance minister P Chidambaram, Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde and Parliamentary Affairs Minister Kamal Nath were also present during the dinner.

Hussain told reporters that the dinner meeting had failed to end the logjam given the fact that the main opposition party stuck to its demand.

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