All party meet fails to break FDI logjam, opposition seeks voting

Last Updated: Mon, Nov 26, 2012 15:02 hrs

New Delhi: An all−party meeting on Monday failed to break the parliament logjam over foreign direct investment in multi−brand retail with opposition MPs adamant on the demand for a debate with voting, rejecting the government's appeal to reconsider their views.

The UPA government however seemed to be in a stronger position Monday with its supporters, as well as erstwhile ally Trinamool Congress, saying they were not averse to the Lok Sabha speaker deciding on the debate rules.

However, the BJP insisted that it wanted a debate under voting rules.

The Congress−led United Progressive Alliance (UPA) leaders are to meet Tuesday to decide the way forward on the issue.

After an over two−hour all−party meeting, Parliamentary Affairs Minister Kamal Nath said: "Many members said the house must run... I will appeal to the parties demanding a discussion under Rule 184 to reconsider their view, and I will discuss the sentiments expressed in the meeting with the presiding officers of the two houses."

Rule 184 entails voting on an issue after a debate.

Indications of how the allies were grouping around the government came in the morning when Samajwadi Party chief Mulayam Singh Yadav met Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and indicated that his party was for the presiding officer deciding the debate rules.

Later, SP leader Reoti Raman Singh said: "We want a debate on FDI, but the speaker should decide the rules under which it should be held."

Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) chief Mayawati too has said she is for debate minus the voting. "We want the house to run, we want a debate on FDI but leave it to the presiding officer on what rule it should be debated under," she said.

In a surprise stand, two days after it moved an unsuccessful no−confidence motion against the government on the issue, the Trinamool Congress said the speaker should decide how to run the house.

Trinamool leader Sudip Bandyopadhyay told reporters that his party wanted a debate but left the voting decision on the speaker.

The party had walked out of the government in September over the issue.

Striking a tough note, Leader of the Opposition in the Lok Sabha Sushma Swaraj said there would be no compromise on their demand for vote.

"We are not ready to compromise. Nothing short of 184," she said, emerging from the meeting.

The UPA has also got around ally DMK which had expressed some reservations on the FDI in retail.

The UPA has maintained it is for a thorough debate on the issue of allowing foreign investment in multi−brand retail that was given the go ahead in September. It was one of the big ticket economic reforms of the government that was accused of policy paralysis. However, opposition parties, including the Left, maintain FDI in retail will harm the small shopkeepers.

After the all−party meet, the Congress expressed satisfaction that most parties wanted the speaker to decide the rule for debate and appealed to opposition parties to respect whatever decision the presiding officer takes.

"We all should accept the speaker's decision. We are satisfied that most parties want the speaker to decide on the rule of the debate," Congress spokesperson Sandeep Dikshit told reporters.

"Only the NDA and the Left want a debate under Rule 184. We appeal to them to support the Speaker's decision," he said. The AIADMK too said it wanted voting on the issue.

According to Dikshit the SP, BSP, DMK and Trinamool Congress said they wanted the speaker to decide on the rule of debate.

Parliament was stalled Monday on the issue for the third consecutive day of the winter session that began Thursday.

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