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Asian Tribune is published by World Institute For Asian Studies|Powered by WIAS Vol. 12 No. 1587

UPA says it has numbers, ready for FDI debate

From R. Vasudevan-Reporting from New Delhi
New Delhi, 28 November (

The government on Tuesday said that the UPA was ready to discuss along with a vote the issue of FDI in multi-brand retail under any rule in Parliament.

"We are not concerned about a vote," Parliamentary Affairs Minister Kamal Nath said. "It is for the Lok Sabha Speaker to decide under which rule a discussion on FDI should be held," Kamal Nath added. Kamal Nath was speaking to reporters after a meeting of UPA's coordination committee.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh also asserted that UPA has the numbers. "Yes, we are confident of numbers," the Prime Minister told reporters after an hour-long meeting leaders of UPA which presented a united picture. He was commenting on stalemate in Parliament over FDI issue leading to adjournment of Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha for the fourth day in a row since the Winter Session began on November 22.

"The UPA is fully united on any decision of the Speaker and the Government...all constituents are firmly behind the Government," Kamal Nath said after the meeting. Referring to Monday’s all-party meeting, he said, "Larger number were in favour of discussion to be decided by the Speaker." Nath said this was discussed today and he will meet the Speaker to convey the sense of yesterday's meeting.

UPA met a day after the all-party meeting convened by the government to break the logjam. UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi, Rahul Gandhi, Defence Minister A K Antony, RLD's Ajit Singh, DMK's T R Baalu, NCP's Sharad Pawar and Praful Patel, National Conference leader Farooq Abdullah and finance minister P Chidambaram were among those present.

The Government got a big relief as the DMK, which was so far ambivalent on the issue of voting on FDI, said it would stand by it with "bitterness" to keep communal forces away and not let the government fall. "When this discussion comes in the Parliament, though there may be thousands of differences (between the UPA and the DMK on the issue), thinking about the unfavourable incidents that may emerge if this government falls at the Centre, it has been decided to support the UPA with bitterness", DMK chief M Karunanidhi said.

Noting that if voting on the FDI in retail sector issue takes place in Parliament under rule 184, Karunanidhi said one cannot refuse that the UPA government may fall at the Centre. Pointing out that the Centre's assurance that it would not thrust any state government to implement FDI in retail sector, Karunanidhi said it has been assured that the life of the farmers and small retailers would not be affected in Tamil Nadu. "In a democratic country, when there is a party that was chosen by the people to run the government, only if it continues to run without any disruption -- public peace and economic development will occur enhancing the life of the common man", Karunanidhi added.

Congress is the largest party in the United Progressive Alliance with 206 MPs. The DMK has 18 MPs.

- Asian Tribune -

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