The BSP’s intention is to keep communal forces at bay

On the eve of the discussion and the vote in the Lok Sabha on Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) in multi-brand retail, Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) chief Mayawati indicated on Monday that despite her party’s reservations about the policy in its present form, it would back the government to keep “communal forces” at bay.

The Lok Sabha, after a two-day debate on the Opposition voting motion, will vote on Wednesday. The government has enough numbers to defeat the motion in the House. However, the trouble is in the Rajya Sabha where it does not have the numbers and also faces the prospect of the Samjawadi Party (which is lending outside support) voting with the Opposition.

Observing that the Centre had not thrust the policy on the States, Ms. Mayawati said foreign investment was needed for the country’s growth but the multi-brand FDI policy should be implemented in a manner that did not hurt the economy or the interests of the middle class and the poor.

“Analyse its impact”

Addressing a press conference here, Ms. Mayawati suggested that since the Congress-ruled States were willing to implement the policy, the Centre should study the impact on these States and analyse the results rather than bring in the policy in a hurry.

“I have studied the policy and found that the only plus point is that if a State does not want to adopt the policy, it need not. Our party has taken note of this. It is also seriously thinking whether it should be standing with those parties that encourage communal forces as it is they who have moved for vote against FDI.”

Asked if her party was linking the vote on FDI with its demand for passage of the Constitution Amendment Bill that provides for reservation for the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes in promotion in government jobs, she said: “No, there is no such condition.”

However, the government has declared its ‘commitment’ to the Bill, with Parliamentary Affairs Minister Kamal Nath telling journalists that it was introduced in the Rajya Sabha and was listed as “Number 1” in the List of Business on Monday.

SP stand

In a way the government is caught in the crossfire between the SP and the BSP, which have locked horns on the Bill in the Rajya Sabha. In fact, the SP has declared that it will oppose FDI in the Upper House, no matter what the party’s stand is in the Lok Sabha. Both parties lend outside support to the UPA and their vote is crucial for the government.

With speculation rife on which way the SP will vote in the Lok Sabha, Ms. Mayawati was asked if that party would follow her. “If they want to copy us, they should copy the manner in which we handled law and order in Uttar Pradesh,” she quipped.

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