Undeterred by the defeat of the Opposition motion against FDI in retail in Parliament, CPI (M) on Sunday warned that the government would have to continue to “manage and manufacture” its majority as the Left parties move for annulment of and amendments to the related FEMA rules.
“The government will be hard-pressed now to go on managing and manufacturing their own majority,” senior CPI(M) leader Sitaram Yechury said.
In an interview to Karan Thapar on Devil’s Advocate programme, Mr. Yechury said the Left parties would move for annulment of and changes to the RBI amendments to the Foreign Exchange Management Act (FEMA) rules to allow FDI in multi-brand retail in both Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha.
Maintaining that the Samajwadi Party, BSP and DMK had opposed FDI in retail but helped the government win the vote on the issue, he said these parties had placed the question of the government winning the vote higher than the merit of the policy on FDI.
A bargaining chip
“If these 31 MPs (SP—9, BSP—15, DMK—7 in Rajya Sabha) were honest to themselves, then the government would have lost in both the Houses,” he said, later adding, “Each vote is a bargaining chip.”
Replying to questions in this regard, Mr. Yechury said, “Something extra has happened...threat, intimidation, a bribe or a promise of doing something. Something has happened.
...I am not ruling out anything...There is definitely...something hanky-panky.”
Elaborating, he said in 1993, the P V Narasimha Rao government won the no-confidence motion following which the JMM MPs bribery case came to light. In 2008, when Left parties withdrew support to UPA-I government headed by Manmohan Singh over the Indo-US nuclear deal, the ‘cash-for-vote’ scam happened.
Asked whether he was being “spiteful” after the defeat in Parliament, Mr. Yechury said, “No, we accept our defeat with grace... (but) am I wrong in accusing them of double-speak when the leader of DMK in Rajya Sabha says FDI means Foreign Direct Invasion and then he goes on to vote with the government?”
On whether SP, BSP and DMK would support the motions to amend or annul the FEMA when they are brought by the Left, he said, “We are hoping that these parties will now realise that their reputation, their word to the people is now under a question mark.”
On voting with BJP
To a question on the Left being on the same side with the BJP on the FDI issue, he said this argument was “a cover, an excuse because the parties which said this have all done business with the BJP in the past. DMK was in the government with BJP for full five years. This was only a cover for them to take the position they have taken.”
Asked why the Left did not support the no-confidence motion brought by the Trinamool Congress, the CPI (M) leader said the motion had less chances of getting support as most parties did not want early elections.
“Therefore, the no-confidence motion was a way out for the government, an escape route. And that is exactly what the Trinamool Congress did on the FEMA amendments (in Lok Sabha).”
When told that the government’s victory over FDI in retail had led to a rise in investors’ confidence, Mr. Yechury said, “Investors’ confidence has in fact fallen. It has fallen because they also know that this vote was managed. They also know how precarious and fragile this whole situation is.”
“Fragility (of the government) lies in the fact that these (victory) margins crucially depend on these two parties —— SP and BSP. That is why this confidence has fallen and not risen,” he said.