Trinamool stand on FDI only after Speaker takes decision

With BJP and Left sticking to their demand for a discussion on FDI in retail under a rule that entails voting, former UPA ally Trinamool Congress today said it would take a stand only after Lok Sabha Speaker Meira Kumar took a decision, but ruled out voting in favour of the government.

"We shall take a stand only after the Speaker takes a decision and communicates it. Our party will then take a stand. The Trinamool has to oppose FDI. We cannot vote in favour of the government under any circumstances," senior TMC leader and former Union Minister Saugata Roy, who is now in Delhi, told PTI.

Without elaborating further, Roy, TMC Lok Sabha member, said the Parliament logjam should end and that the House should transact its business.

He criticised the Congress-led coalition and said his party withdrew support to the government in the wake of hike in diesel prices, cap on LPG cylinders and the decision to allow 51 per cent FDI in multi-brand retail.

"We wanted to table a no-confidence motion against the government. We are unhappy that it did not get support (from BJP, Left and other parties)," he said.

Nath said the government "cannot accept (discussion under Rule) 184. We have left it to the presiding officers to decide. Let them take any decision they want in the interest of running the House".

Asked if the government was ready for voting on FDI as the opposition is firm on its stand, Nath said, "We are not averse to it."

To a query whether the government was setting a bad precedent by having a voting on an executive decision, the minister said, "There are many precedents. A House behaving like this was also not there. Rules are very clear. We are not worried. Government is confident of the steps... of our policies."

Besides BJP, the Left parties, BJD, AIADMK, TDP have been demanding that the discussion on FDI should be followed by voting.

While in Lok Sabha, the government appears to be comfortably placed in the numbers game with promise of support from SP and BSP and DMK's open backing. Trinamool Congress with 19 MPs has also been cold towards Opposition demands for a vote on the issue.

In the Lower House, at present the UPA enjoys the support of about 265 MPs in Lok Sabha of 545. With the support of Samajwadi Party (22) and BSP (21), the backing for the ruling coalition goes a little over 300, which is comfortable over the required 273.

However in Rajya Sabha, where the UPA coalition does not have the numbers on its own, it may have problems in case of a vote.

In a House with an effective strength of 244, the UPA and its allies have a strength of about 94 members. There are ten nominated members who may vote with the government. Among the seven Independents, three or four may go with the government.

Still the ruling coalition may have to persuade outside supporters BSP (15) and SP (9) to positively vote with the government to avoid any last-minutes hitches.

Former Railway Minister Mukul Roy today spoke of the need for a fresh move to bring a no-confidence motion against the government.

"This government has become a minority. It should go and there should be fresh election. Towards that end, a fresh attempt to bring no-confidence motion can be made if the parties, opposed to FDI and other anti-people decisions, come forward," Roy said at Raiganj in North Dinajpur district.

"Whether there should be a discussion in Parliament on FDI under Rule 184 or Rule 193 is not a big thing. What is required is to remove this government which can be done if a no-confidence motion is brought against it," Roy, a close aide of Mamata Banerjee, said.

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