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India opposition braces for FDI debate
Publication Date : 15-11-2012
The beginning of India's Parliament’s winter session is still over a week away, but a political storm has already started gathering over the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government’s decision to allow foreign direct investment (FDI) in multi-brand retail, with virtually the entire opposition, getting set to gun for the government on the controversial issue.
Several opposition parties, especially the Left, have already given notices for motion in both Houses of Parliament, seeking discussion on the FDI-retail issue under rules that entail voting. Evidently, they are confident that the government would be in minority on this issue if a voting is allowed by the chairperson following a debate.
This is because even within the depleted UPA coalition, there are key constituents which appear to be opposed to the FDI-retail move.
However, the FDI-retail decision, taken by the government in September--leading to its then biggest ally, the Mamata Banerjee-led Trinamul’s exit from and withdrawal of support to the UPA ministry--is supposed to fall into the executive domain which does not require parliamentary approval.
But, if the entire opposition and the government’s estranged allies, erstwhile or existing, range themselves against the FDI-retail measure on the floor of the House, the government is likely to get reduced to a minority on this specific issue, which will be a huge embarrassment for it, one that will be construed morally as a parliamentary red signal to the measure.
Acting on a joint decision of four Left parties on Monday, the Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) yesterday announced that it has submitted notices for motion in both the Houses to seek a discussion on the issue under rules entailing voting. “In both the Houses, the CPI-M members have given the notices and we wish to take this up for a proper discussion under rules which will entail voting,” the senior CPM leader Sitaram Yechury said.
“Any such decision (allowing FDI in multi-brand retail) will have to be endorsed by Parliament and the government should not go behind the cover of saying that this is an executive decision,” Yechury said, adding the government should take into account Parliament’s decision if it wanted to go ahead as it was “supreme in our constitutional scheme of things.” While Yechury signed the notice in the Rajya Sabha, his party colleague Basudeb Acharia sent the notice in the Lok Sabha, seeking that the two Houses reject the government’s decision to allow FDI in multi-brand retail.