Writing in the Indian Express today, MR Madhavan with PRS Legislative Research carries a ready reckoner for what we can expect to see in today’s session of Parliament.
So here are the possibilities — a debate without voting under Rule 193, a motion (with a vote) under Rule 184, and an adjournment motion or a no-confidence motion. This is how each of them works:
Debate without voting under Rule 193: As per this, the minister concerned with FDI in retail would have to respond to queries from other leaders. He merely answers questions to assure members of the house but doesn’t have to act on the suggestions from the Opposition MPs. Neither the BJP nor Mamata will settle for merely giving Anand Sharma or P Chidambaram a earful. For now it’s safe to assume that this motion is unlikely to be moved.
Motion with a vote under Rule 184: Under this, the Lok Sabha would vote on an issue based on a motion moved by an MP. There’s a hangup though. The question needs to be very specific. After the question, the MPs from both sides will debate and then vote on the question. Why the government may not be keen on this? Because if they lose the vote they have to go with whatever Parliament decides. However, given that the Congress seems confident of its numbers they may not be biting their nails with worry over this possibility.
Adjournment motion: The government and Opposition won’t mind this one. The government doesn’t have to resign and if the Opposition does get the motion passed, it is a strong censure of the government. The BJP might settle for this but the last one they moved after the violence in Kokrajhar was defeated. But it also helps them put the government on the mat over not consulting Parliament before moving the legislation.
No confidence motion: It’s what Mamata wants and no one else seems to want to back. If it is moved and the Opposition does pull it off, then the government needs to resign. However, if it is moved and flops then Mamata and the Opposition need to wait another six months before it can move a similar motion again.
And here’s the final trump card that the Opposition can use to target the government.
A Member of Parliament can move a motion to annul the new regulations that have been amended to the Foreign Exchange Management Act (FEMA) to allow companies to invest in India. Madhavan says that past motions over other laws were moved in the Rajya Sabha but they were never passed by the house. By challenging the amendments to the laws to allow FDI in retail, the Opposition could still stall the UPA’s crucial economic push.