2.24 pm: Confident UPA says it stands united on FDI
After a series of successful backroom negotiations, the UPA said it is confident of numbers in the event of a vote on retail FDI. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh stopped by clamouring journalists for a few seconds to say, “We are confident of numbers”, while Parliamentary Affairs Minister Kamal Nath added that the UPA stood united on the issue.
Nath added that the sense of the house yesterday was to have a discussion and not a vote. ”The government is not averse to a discussion. We are not concerned about a vote. We are very clear in our minds about a vote”, he said.
He added that it would be up to the speaker of the house to decide under which provision of the house the discussion would be held. The BJP and Left are insisting on section 184 which entails both a discussion and vote.
And if it sounds confusing, that’s because it probably is. Consider this:
Once they’re done debating under which section to have the debate, then they’ll start having the actual debate. Wait, what?
— Overrated Outcast (@over_rated) नवम्बर 27, 2012
But the Congress is slowly winning over other parties. The DMK has already said it will support the government, while the NCP also said it would do the same. The Samajawadi Party will abstain even if it does not directly support the UPA, while the BSP will also support the government, although on the condition that the promotions quota for SC/ST is taken up for debate first.
2.06 pm: Lok Sabha adjourned for the day, is FDI vote inevitable?
The Lok Sabha has been adjourned for the day after the opposition continued to chant slogans in the house, demanding a debate and vote on FDI in retail. The session lasted mere minutes, as MPs rushed into the well of the house, shouting anti-FDI slogans.
The Congress is still saying that a vote on FDI is not necessary, but have been involved in a number of backroom discussions with allies and other parties with an eye on the possibility that it will have no choice but to agree to one.
The DMK has already said that it will vote with the government because it does not want the BJP to come to power, and the Samajawadi Party also indicated that it would back the government, or abstain in the event of a vote.
12.30 pm: DMK to support UPA on FDI in Parliament
DMK has decided to support the government on FDI in retail. The decision comes as a huge relief to UPA.
Despite the party being an important ally of UPA, it had earlier raised objections to FDI. However, the party now says it will support the government to keep ‘communal’ forces out of power.
DMK chief Karunanidhi said he was aware of the opposition’s agenda in asking for a vote. He said, “we will support govt on FDI despite differences. Do not want to give room for BJP to come to power.” He, however, added that the party took the decision with “bitterness”.
Meanwhile, the UPA coordination committee meet has begun to discuss the provision of voting on FDI.
12.00 pm: Both houses adjourned again, Saugata Roy speech cut shot
The second session of Parliament went the same way as the first, with the Lok Sabha adjourned over the issue of FDI in retail, and the Rajya Sabha adjourned over the SC/ST promotions quota bill. The Lok Sabha witnessed a brief respite from all the sloganeering when former Minister, TMC MP Saugata Roy stood up to read a prepared speech explaining why he resigned from the council of Ministers.
Roy began by citing the cap on subsidised LPG cylinders, but was stopped by acting speaker PC Chacko when he deviated from the speech on record and brought up the issue of FDI in retail. “My speech has been heavily edited and rewritten”, said Roy, even as Chacko insisted that it would not go on record.
Chacko’s decision was greeted with hissing and booing, and shortly afterwards MPs stormed the well of the house, demanding a debate and vote on FDI. The house was then adjourned till 2pm.
The Rajya Sabha was also adjourned, following a ruckus over the SC/ST promotions quota bill. The BSP who has been pushing for the passage of the bill, say they want it passed before FDI is brought before the house.
11.11 am: Lok Sabha adjourned till noon despite Meira Kumar’s best efforts
Lok Sabha speaker Meira Kumar tried valiantly to conduct the business of the house during question hour for eleven noise filled minutes, but had to bow to the inevitable and adjourn the house till noon. A visibly upset Kumar kept shouting at MPs to sit down, and reiterated that the question up for discussion, crimes against women, was an important one.
Finally almost in frustration she appealed to the female MPs saying, “The first question is on crimes against women. All the women should go back and ask the question”.
Her appeals fell on deaf ears however, as opposition MPs carried on screaming for a debate and vote on FDI in retail.
11.02 am: Rajya Sabha adjourned till noon
In a session that lasted just two minutes, the upper house of Parliament was adjourned till noon. In a nutshell, Parliament began, opposition members holding banners began shouting and asking for the suspension of question hour, Ansari refused to budge and then adjourned the house till noon when the uproar showed no signs of abating.
Earlier, BJP leaders Prakash Javadekar and Venkaiah Naidu gave a notice for the suspension of Question Hour in the Rajya Sabha and discussion on FDI under rule 184 which entails voting.
10. 50 am: BJP says it is sticking to its stance on FDI
The BJP Parliamentary board meeting has ended with no change in the opposition parties stance on FDI in the retail sector. This means they are still pushing for a debate and vote under section 184. BJP spokesman Shahnawaz Hussain said that BJP President Nitin Gadkari, Leader of the opposition in the Lok Sabha, Sushma Swaraj and senior BJP leader LK Advani had been present at the meeting when the decision had been taken.
He added however that they wanted the house to function, because they wanted to express their views on the issue. “If the house does not function, the government will be responsible”, he said.
The statement comes despite a comment by Parliamentary Affairs minister Kamal Nath who said that most parties have agreed to the government’s proposal for a discussion on FDI. “We have had useful discussion. All parties say House must run. I have appealed to those who wanted discussion under Rule 184 to reconsider their decision. I will speak to the presiding officers,” said Nath.
Apart from the BJP, the Left parties have also been pushing for a vote under section 184. The Congress has said that it is open to a debate, but will not agree to a vote. According to IBNLive reports, the government is against having a vote, but if forced to do so, it is sure of the support of Mulayam Singh’s Samajwadi Party and Mayawati‘s Bahujan Samaj Party.
10.05 am: BJP Parliamentary Board meet begins
Ahead of the Parliament session, BJP leaders have met to discuss on FDI in retail. The BJP has demanded for a vote on the FDI decision, but the government has maintained that it is ready to discuss the issue but does not want it to be put to vote.
Meanwhile, BJP has already issued a notice in the Rajya Sabha, asking for the suspension of question hour.
9.35 am: Pressure eases on UPA, but FDI to be thrashed out with allies today
The deadlock in Parliament over FDI in multi-brand retail continues after Monday’s inconclusive all-party meet. The UPA coordination committee will meet today to discuss the provision of FDI voting. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, too, will meet Congress allies on the issue.
The all-party meeting called to break the deadlock in Parliament over the government’s decision to allow FDI in retail ended without any breakthrough. The BJP-led National Democratic Alliance and the Left stuck to their demand for a vote on the decision, but the government has maintained that it is ready to discuss the FDI in retail issue but does not want it to be put to vote.
The BJP has already issued a notice in the Rajya Sabha, asking for the suspension of question hour.
Parliamentary Affairs Minister Kamal Nath said that most parties have agreed to the government’s proposal for a discussion on FDI. “We have had useful discussion. All parties say House must run. I have appealed to those who wanted discussion under Rule 184 to reconsider their decision. I will speak to the presiding officers,” said Nath.
However, the support of the BSP has come on one condition. They want the government to bring the quota bill before the FDI discussion.
Mayawati has asked for a commitment from the government on the passage of the bill that provides for SC/ST reservation in promotion in government jobs. In a last minute u-turn, that gave tremendous relief to the UPA, the TMC also decided not to press for a vote and left it to the speaker’s discretion of what to introduce the issue under.
The DMK is against FDI in retail but doesn’t want voting, while other allies like the RLD, NCP and the National Conference are also with the government for a discussion without vote.