The Foreign Exchange Management Act (Fema) notification dealing with foreign direct investment (FDI) in the retail sector has to be passed by only one House of Parliament, Parliamentary Affairs Minister Kamal Nath has claimed. Opposition stand is that the decision cannot be implemented if it falls in the Rajya Sabha, where the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government lacks a majority.
“If one House has passed it, it passes. It does not need both Houses to pass it. That's what is prescribed in the rules,” he told Karan Thapar on CNN-IBN’s programme, Devil's Advocate.
CPI(M) leader Sitaram Yechury had said that going by the rules, the Fema notification on allowing 51 per cent FDI in multi-brand retailing has to be laid and passed in both Houses of Parliament. Failure to do so will be challenged in court, he had said last week.
Nath did not agree with this contention of the Opposition. “Anything can go to court. If it goes, we will deal with it,” he said.
The minister insisted the rules are separate for the Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha. Nath, however, agreed the FEMA notification — which can be passed in the Budget session as well, as the government has 30 working days of Parliament to get the nod — might drag into the next session, which is three months away.
He said he has got no assurance from the Samajwadi Party (SP) and Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) on the issue, which will be debated and voted upon this week in both Houses but expressed confidence they will support the UPA.
“I have good reason to believe that they (SP and BSP) will vote with the government because they are responsible parties and they will understand the politics of it... They are not going to vote for the politics of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP),” Nath said.
“At this moment, I have no assurance from any political party. All I know is I believe that I will be able to prevail upon political parties to make them understand what is behind this vote,” Nath said.
The minister stated he is in talks with everybody.
"We are in talks with them (political parties)... We are confident that we will be able to carry it through in the Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha... I am confident of my numbers,” he said.
He denied the government was trying to manipulate the members into abstaining or coming to vote on FDI.
“Just as I am not arranging for abstention of Sachin Tendulkar, I am not arranging for abstention from any party. I am not giving a thought to whether we will win here or lose there. I am confident of winning in the Rajya Sabha,” he said.
Nath maintained that the BJP does not control Parliament anymore and the whole FDI issue has become “messy” due to the Opposition. “I don't think anybody has a veto over us. Let’s not be under this delusion,” he said.
The minister is also confident of getting the other pending Bills of the finance ministry, including the insurance and pensions Bills, passed in this session.
"I have talked to the main opposition. The Insurance and Pensions Bill are acceptable to them with some amendments. The Standing Committee on Finance has given a report. The Finance Minister is examining this report. He is talking directly to the opposition on it," Nath said.
"As soon as they have convergence we will have the Bill. I am confident the Finance Minister will find convergence on this," he added.
The minister said government is "continuously and extensively" engaging with all political parties. "Let us move forward. There are many things which happen milestone by milestone," he said.