UPA Govt wins crucial FDI vote in Rajya Sabha
India's ruling UPA government on Friday won the crucial vote in the Rajya Sabha to allow foreign direct investment in retail. The government defeated a motion against the measure by 123 to 109 after the Samajwadi Party walked out ahead of the vote.
All nominated MPs voted for the government except Sachin Tendulkar, who was absent due to the ongoing Test match in Kolkata.
Earlier, an animated debate on FDI in the Upper House saw clashes between the government and the Opposition, which accused Commerce Minister Anand Sharma of misleading the House and demanded an apology.
The uproar led to abrupt adjournment of the House for over an hour while the Minister was speaking on the motion moved against bringing FDI in retail sector.
Trouble started when Sharma read out excerpts of a Planning Commission report citing recommendations of a Committee headed by N K Singh during the NDA regime in 2002, suggesting up to 100 per cent FDI in retail be brought in as it will benefit both consumers and farmers. Singh, now a JD-U member, rose to counter Sharma's contention, who refused to yield to him. As the Chair did not allow the JD-U member to speak, the entire opposition, including members from Left, TMC and NDA, were on their feet demanding that they wanted to hear Singh's version.
Targeting the Commerce Minister, Leader of the Opposition Arun Jaitley said, "The Minister has said that N K Singh in his capacity as Chairman of the Committee has supported FDI in multi-brand retail. He cannot play up one paragraph. You are reading the preamble and not the conclusion... please allow him (Singh) to speak."
The entire opposition also supported Singh who said what the Minister read out was not the conclusion of the report and that Sharma had misled the House for which the government should apologise. This saw BJP members raise slogans, "Anand Sharma maafi maango... Bharat Sarkar maafi maango... Anand Sharma has misled the House". As the din continued despite his repeated persuasion, Deputy Chairman P J Kurien adjourned the House till 2.30 pm.
Replying to the debate, Sharma earlier rejected the opposition contention that FDI in multi-brand retail will render small traders unemployed and damage the interests of farmers. Sharma claimed that 11 states and major farmer and trader organisations had favored allowing FDI in retail and claimed he had held discussions with various states before taking the decision to allow FDI.
- Asian Tribune -