Many parties against House disruption, instead want discussion on FDI

The Opposition is not in favour of a Trinamool Congress proposal to move a no-confidence motion against the UPA government in the winter session beginning on November 22.

Though no leader is prepared to go on record, the instant response of most parties is that it serves no purpose to press for a no-confidence vote without the numbers.

“Unless we are absolutely sure of the numbers, the move would only help the government. The UPA can claim that the defeat of the motion is an endorsement of all its unpopular decisions,” says a senior leader.

The Opposition parties are also divided on whether or not to press for a motion, which entails voting, opposing the entry of foreign firms into multibrand retail. The dilemma has nothing to do with opposition to the government decision per se but to the reality of parliamentary procedures.

After a meeting of the four Left parties — the CPI, the CPI(M), the RSP and the Forward Bloc — here, CPI(M) leader Sitaram Yechury said he had served a notice to move a motion against the FDI under a rule which entailed voting.

However, CPI leader Gurudas Dasgupta said he would move a motion in the Lok Sabha under Rule 193, which did not entail voting, for debate on the government decision to permit entry of foreign players into multibrand retail.

“The Opposition cannot force the government to agree for a discussion on a motion which entails voting. Technically, it is the prerogative of the Speaker to take a call. The Speaker can allow the motion only if the government gives its consent,” Mr. Dasgupta told The Hindu.

To a question whether there were differences among the Left parties over the motion, CPI National Secretary D. Raja said: “The stand of the CPI and the entire Left is the same — to oppose it. We are also opposed to FDI in the insurance sector.”

Wiser by the earlier instances where precious time of Parliament was lost in the tug of war between the Opposition and the government on the rule under which a motion is to be debated, some Opposition parties are veering round to the view that it would be futile to insist on a motion which entails voting if the ruling combine does not agree.

Several smaller parties are also unhappy over the growing trend of major parties repeatedly resorting to disruption of Parliament as a strategy. Virtually the entire monsoon session was washed out following the NDA’s decision to stall the House over its demand for resignation of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh over the alleged coal scam.

Towards the end of the session, some of the NDA constituents became so restive that they wanted the BJP to review its strategy. With great difficulty, the BJP managed to keep the NDA flock together till the end of the session.

On the continuous disruption of proceedings in the last session, Mr. Yechury said, “We do not want a repeat of that situation. We do not want a situation where there is match-fixing between the Congress and the BJP.”

Mindful of the sensitivities of the NDA constituents and smaller parties, the BJP chose to leave the strategy it would adopt on the FDI to the larger alliance. The NDA is expected to meet on November 21 over the issue.

Janata Dal (U) chief and NDA convener Sharad Yadav indicated the flexible approach of his party. He told journalists that the party members would give notices for discussion on FDI under both rules —184, which entails voting after discussion, and 193, under which there would be a simple debate.

This article has been corrected for a factual error.

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