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It is a huge day for Parliament as the Lok Sabha is set to enter into a debate on Tuesday on FDI in multi-brand retail. The debate will be carried out under rule 184, which allows voting. The Congress is putting up a brave front saying it's confident that it has the numbers and can pull through this.
Though speculation hints at Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) chief Mayawati supporting the government, both she and Samajwadi Party chief Mulayam Singh Yadav have said that their parties will take a call on the floor of the House. Both the parties have kept the UPA government on the edge ahead of the crucial debate.
"Our party will decide our stand on FDI in retail through a vote in Parliament after analysing its benefits for the nation. On this issue, our party will decide whether we stand with those who empower communal forces in the nation," Mayawati said on Monday.
Mayawati's guessing game is giving anxious moments to the government, particularly in the Rajya Sabha, where it needs both SP and BSP's helping hand. Sources say that Mayawati could help the Congress out, though for a price. She wants the quota bill to be taken up first in Rajya Sabha.
SP, however, opposes the quota bill and there is a possibility of a repeat of Lokpal scenes in the Rajya Sabha where a debate may not be allowed. This could suit the Congress where it could avoid the embarrassment of a defeat. Mulayam also said, "I am opposed to FDI. I will decide in the Lok Sabha."
Government's floor managers have been working overtime. They are hoping for a last minute abstention from SP and BSP. But if the quota bill is taken up, the possibility of the SP turning its back is high.
In case of a defeat on FDI, the government doesn't fall but it will be a huge embarrassment because the government has hinged FDI as a part of its big bang reforms package. But the real challenge for the government could be in defeating the motions moved by the Left seeking cancellation of FDI enabling FEMA amendments moved by the government on Friday.
While the government wants to delink the two and insists that it needs to win in only one. The Opposition, particularly the Left wants to corner the government by linking the two. While the Lok Sabha seems fine for the government, it's important to win by a huge margin because one it will claim unanimity on FDI and second will be used to project a blow to a united opposition on the issue.
Meanwhile, the Trinamool Congress, a former ally of the UPA, has asked its MPs to be present in the House for the next two days, even as it will make its stand official only by Wednesday. "For the moment, all the TMC MPs in the Lok Sabha have been asked to remain present in the House for the two days. Our stand on voting will be intimated later. In terms of number crunching, all this will come on 5th when the voting takes place, by this time our stand will be known," TMC leader Saugata Roy said.
The numbers in the Lok Sabha
Vote on FDI
Congress(206) + DMK(18) + OTH(30) + RJD(4) + JDS(3) = 261
NDA(152) + LEFT(24) = 176
SP(22) + BSP(21) + TMC(19) = 62
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