Though the stand-off between the government and the Opposition on the FDI has ended, with the former agreeing to a voting motion in both Houses of Parliament, the ruling party managers are keeping their fingers crossed on the outcome of the vote in the Rajya Sabha, as the Samajwadi Party, which lends outside support to the UPA, sprung a surprise, declaring that it will take a stand against the government in the Upper House when the motion comes up for voting.
The SP decision, as of now, to vote against the government in the Rajya Sabha, ironically not connected to its opposition on throwing open multi-brand retail sector to foreign players, could lead to a huge embarrassment to the government that lacks the requisite numbers in the 244-member House of Elders.
The SP has nine members but if it votes alongside the Left parties and the National Democratic Alliance, there is a possibility of the motion being carried through. Leader of Samajwadi party in the Rajya Sabha Ram Gopal Yadav said outside Parliament that the party may vote one way in the Lok Sabha and another in the Rajya Sabha.
“Sometimes it is deliberate,’’ he said adding that it had happened in the past. So far the party had favoured discussion on FDI, but was ambiguous on which way it will vote.
The discussion on the motion in the Lok Sabha will take place on December 4 and 5 before it is commended for vote. No date has been fixed in the Rajya Sabha and indications are that it could come up on December 9 and 10.
The SP, it seems, is peeved at the listing of the Constitutional Amendment Bill that calls for reservation to the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes in promotions in government jobs. The party is opposing the Bill, which their traditional rival, the Bahujan Samaj Part, is pushing for. In fact, for the last three days, the ajya Sabha has been witnessing adjournments because both these Uttar Pradesh-based parties are locking horns over the Bill. The SP had opposed the Bill at the time of its tabling in the last session too and had declared that it will block it. It wants reservation for OBCs too.
After the proceedings were disrupted and the House was adjourned for the fifth consecutive day on Thursday, Chairman Hamid Ansari convened a meeting of party leaders. Ministers Kamal Nath and Rajeev Shukla, who were present, said the government was ready to discuss the FDI issue with voting as in the Lok Sabha. Parties demanded parity with the Lok Sabha and it was decided to discuss the Bill under Rule 167/168 that entails voting.
In the effective strength of 244 in the Upper House, the UPA and its allies have 106 members and even if the 10 nominated members go with the government, the numbers will not touch the half-way mark of 122. The BSP, so far, has not revealed its intention, saying it will decide on the floor of the House. It is not clear which way the nine Trinamool Congress members will go.
Earlier, when the House met in the morning, BJP members Venkaiah Naidu and Ravi Shankar Prasad demanded the suspension of question hour to discuss the FDI issue. At the same time, SP members were on their feet opposing the promotion reservation bill, forcing an adjournment. When the House re-assembled, the BSP members countered the SP protest by shouting slogans. At this, Deputy Chairman P.J. Kurien adjourned the House for the day.