FDI debate in Rajya Sabha tomorrow, govt lacks numbers
The debate on foreign direct investment (FDI) in multi-brand retail is scheduled for Thursday in the Rajya Sabha. But the opposition has raised doubts about the debate being allowed fearing that the house will again be adjourned amidst din.
The upper house of parliament, during the current winter session, saw peaceful proceedings only on Nov 30.
As the Lok Sabha debated the issue of FDI in retail Wednesday, the Rajya Sabha was adjourned after protests by Samajwadi Party (SP) and Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) members.
Opposition Bharatiya Janata Party has alleged that the government was using supporting parties to disrupt the house since it does not have the numbers there.
In the Rajya Sabha, the government is likely to face a tough test in defeating an opposition-sponsored motion on FDI in retail since its numbers do not cross even the half-way mark despite the help of outside supporters.
The motion would be debated under rules 167-168, which entail voting after an "in principle" decision taken at a meeting of Rajya Sabha chairman and leaders of political parties.
The government needs the support of 123 members in the 244-member house to defeat the motion brought by the opposition. The Congress with its allies has a strength of 89 in the upper house.
7. 05 pm
Sushma blames Mulayam for avoiding FDI vote under CBI pressure
Leader of Opposition in Lok Sabha, Sushma Swaraj, on Wednesday alleged that Samajwadi Party (SP) chief Mulayam Singh Yadav walked out of the upper house ahead of voting on FDI in retail because of CBI pressure.
It may be recalled that on March 1, 2007, the Supreme Court directed the CBI to probe the assets of Mulayam Singh Yadav and his family. Petitions by Yadav and his family, seeking a review of the decision, are pending since the judgment was reserved in February 2011.
The government could always apply pressure by seeking to file additional documents or pressing for an early decision on these probes.
"I wanted that everyone should have walked their talked ... how vociferously Mulayam ji had opposed FDI...if he had voted with us, FDI would not have been implemented. It is not a question of BJP, this is not a communal issue... but the problem is the issue has now become FDI vs CBI," said Swaraj.
The BSP too has CBI cases against it such as the one involving the Taj Corridor Scam case.
Govt wins FDI vote
UPA wins the vote, with 253 votes in its favour against 218 votes in support of the BJP sponsored motion. A total of 471 members of Lok Sabha voted. The motion moved by BJP's Sushma Swaraj was defeated.
6. 25 pm
MPs of SP and BSP have walked out of the Lok Sabha before the FDI vote
6. 00 pm
Opposition fears SP, BSP may vote for government
Apprehending that SP and BSP would bail out the UPA on FDI in retail, the opposition in Lok Sabha on Wednesday warned these parties as also DMK that history will not pardon them if they sided with the government on the issue despite opposing it during the nationwide protest.
Among those who made a scathing attack on the government over the issue were members of the JD(U), CPI(M), BJD, Shiv Sena and AIADMK.
UPA ally NCP, which is a major partner in Maharashtra government, suggested it was not completely on board regarding implementation of FDI in retail, with its leader Praful Patel saying the state's Coordination Committee will assess its impact as it did not want small retailers to be hurt.
But at the same time, he rejected the opposition contention that FDI was bad for the country.
5. 10 pm
Lok Sabha disrupted over Lalu's remarks
The Lok Sabha was adjourned briefly following verbal clashes between Rashtriya Janata Dal (RLD) chief Lalu Prasad and Bharatiya Janata Party members.
As soon as Lalu Prasad stood up to participate in the debate on FDI in multi-brand retail, BJP members created a ruckus.
An agitated Lalu Prasad addressed BJP members as "jamhoore" (side-kicks), which led to protests by BJP members.
Lok Sabha deputy speaker Karia Munda, after failing to restore order, then adjourned the house briefly.
4. 50 pm
Government deliberately disrupting Rajya Sabha: BJP
The government and its "supporting parties" were deliberately disrupting proceedings in the Rajya Sabha and it was doubtful whether they would allow a debate on foreign investment in retail, the BJP alleged Wednesday as the upper house was adjourned for the day without any business being transacted.
"Since the very first day, the government doesn't seem to be serious about conduct of business, specially in the Rajya Sabha," leader of opposition in the Rajya Sabha Arun Jaitley told reporters.
The opposition, he said, doubted if the ruling party and its supporters would allow the debate on foreign direct investment (FDI) to take place Thursday as scheduled.
"I have the suspicion that the government is unsure which way the Rajya Sabha will vote, so it is not letting the house function. We doubt they will allow the debate on FDI tomorrow (Thursday)," he said.
Supreme Court orders Karnataka to release 10,000 cusecs of water from Cauvery River to Tamil Nadu.
Angry screams and accusations slow Lok Sabha debate
The FDI in Retail debate continues as various parties spell out their stand. There is little new to add to the debate as such. Similar points, slightly changed to suit their own politics, were raised by them all.
But much of the time seems to be spent in various members rising to their feet and screaming at the top of their lungs.
The strongest screaming was triggered by Lalu Prasad Yadav. A word he said was either misinterpreted, reinterpreted or just used by the BJP members to rise to their feet and scream accusations across the hall.
Lalu Prasad soon lost his temper and added to the chaos, although his voice was by far the strongest.
The debate is progressing slowly, but not very far.
The House has been adjourned for a short while to let tempers cool.
Eating tomatoes wards off depression?
Researchers analysed the mental health records and diet habits of just under 1,000 men and women aged 70 years or over.
They found those eating tomatoes two to six times a week were 46 percent less likely to suffer the blues than those eating the red fruit less than once a week.
A team from China and Japan, led by Kaijun Niu from China's Tianjin Medical University, wanted to investigate preliminary reports that lycopene might also promote psychological and well as physical health by reducing oxidative stress, or damage to healthy brain cells, the Journal of Affective Disorders reported.
But other fruits and vegetables do not have the same benefits, the study found.
Eating cabbage, carrots, onions and pumpkins appeared to have little or no effect on psychological well-being, according to the Daily Mail.
Govt may win the FDI battle, but will lose the war, warns Sharad Yadav
Mr Yadav eventually worked himself up quite well.
He delved into history, mentioning that once India was a world-leader, on par with China. However now our economy stutters at 5.5, "or perhaps it has fallen to 5.4 as we speak".
He blamed this downfall on the neglect of the poor and the common masses. He asked the Government to give up its constant 'west-leaning' and try to think from an India-centric view.
He also bought up Mahatma Gandhi and referenced the Mahatma's 'swadeshi' philosophy. He lamented that despite all these years, the fate of farmers has not improved. He called for a more inclusive form of growth, one that would not exclude the poor and divide them from the rich.
He asked the government to not claim that he, and others like him who were opposing FDI, were trying to stifle the market. Yadav said that the Indian market was 5000 years old and no one could stop it.
Yadav warned the government that though they may win the FDI in Retail fight, they would lose the war in the end.
Yadav's one big quotable line has to be -
Rollback the FDI or the UPA will be rolled back.
JD(U) Chief Sharad Yadav lashes out at Kapil Sibal
JD (U) Chief Sharad Yadav says that this FDI debate is similar to the nuclear deal debate (the Indo-US deal that was debated back in UPA-I), which his party had also opposed.
Mr Yadav also took on Kapil Sibal personally, saying that Sibal was dividing the nation between haves and have-nots. He also clarified that if he wanted to just bring down the Government, as Sibal had claimed yesterday, then he would have participated in the no-confidence motion that the Trinamool Congress had tried to enforce a few days ago.
He said was trying to advice, not trip the Government.
However he also stated that if Sibal felt that everyone else was only eying seats, then he had to acknowledge that even his party was doing the same, since they were all here to play the game of politics.
He further mocked Sibal's cycle example (where Sibal had said that only a few car owners would go to Walmart, not the majority of the masses, who did not even have a cycle to travel) by stating that even the cars were subsidized since diesel is a subsidized commodity.
Sibal seemed to take it all in good spirit, maintaining a steady grin.
Basudeb Acharia of CPI(M) took the floor first, in a very, very over time speech. His basic points were similar to the BJP's yesterday - FDI will not benefit farmers, Government is over stating the advantages and that old favorite - 'Walmart will not care about the farmers'
Sharad Yadav takes the floor now.
SC makes it official, Pranab is our President
The clouds on the fairness of President Pranab Mukherjee's election as head of the country cleared Wednesday as the Supreme Court by a majority judgment rejected a petition challenging the process.
The apex court special bench, headed by Chief Justice Altamas Kabir, by a majority judgement, rejected the petition by defeated presidential candidate P.A. Sangma, who had contended that Mukherjee held an office of profit when he had filed his nomination papers.
The Rajya Sabha has been adjourned till 12 pm after some MPs disturbed the proceeding over demands for a memorial. Meanwhile the Lok Sabha is proceeding peacefully for now. The vote on FDI will be at six pm.
Govt trying to rally support ahead of FDI vote
Against the backdrop of BSP and SP keeping their cards close to their chest on voting in Lok Sabha on a motion against FDI, the government on Wednesday said it was in touch with various parties for their support.
"We are in touch with all (parties). We have requested them to support us. FDI will not hurt the interests of farmers or small traders. In fact it will help them," Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs Rajiv Shulka told reporters outside Parliament House.
His remarks come hours before Lok Sabha is to take up voting on a motion moved by opposition parties against government's decision allowing 51 per cent FDI in multi-brand retail.
While both SP and BSP had opposed FDI on Tuesday during a debate on the issue, they had not made it clear whether they will support the motion.
BJP leader Sushma Swaraj had asked the two parties to support the motion, saying their fears that the government could fall were unfounded.
Samsung heir comes closer to top rung
Samsung Electronics Co. promoted its chairman's only son to vice chairman, putting the 44-year-old closer to the top leadership position at the world's largest maker of memory chips, mobile phones and TVs.
Samsung, South Korea's largest industrial conglomerate, announced Jay Y. Lee's promotion to vice chairman just two years after he was named president. He assumes his new post Wednesday.
Samsung said in a statement that Lee, who was also chief operating officer, had contributed to the growth of its smartphone and TV businesses.
Lee, a graduate of Seoul National University of Korea and Keio University of Japan, is a grandson of Samsung founder Lee Byung-chull and the oldest child of current chairman Lee Kun-hee, South Korea's wealthiest man.
Lee's work has involved building Samsung's relationships with suppliers and other companies it does business with while his reclusive 70-year-old father focused on mapping out big picture strategy for the group.
The promotion of the younger Lee comes as Samsung's chairman faces civil lawsuits filed by his older brother and two other family members who are claiming a bigger inheritance from the estate of the Samsung founder.
The inheritance battle might prevent Lee Kun-hee from transferring shareholdings that allow control over Samsung to his son. The first court ruling is expected next year.
NASA plans to send new rover to Mars in 2020
U.S. space agency NASA announced Tuesday its plans for a robust multi-year Mars exploration program, including a new robotic science rover set to launch in 2020.
The future rover development and design will be based on the Mars Science Laboratory architecture that successfully carried the Curiosity rover to the Martian surface this summer.
It will ensure mission costs and risks are as low as possible, while still delivering a highly capable rover with a proven landing system.
The mission is estimated to cost about 1.5 billion U.S. dollars. But scientists haven't spell out exactly what the rover would try to accomplish on Mars.
NASA said that it's another step toward eventually sending astronauts to the red planet in the 2030s.
"The Obama administration is committed to a robust Mars exploration program," NASA Administrator Charles Bolden said in a statement.
"With this next mission, we're ensuring America remains the world leader in the exploration of the Red Planet, while taking another significant step toward sending humans there in the 2030s," Bolden added.
Stop criticising Sachin Tendulkar, says Ganguly
Former India captain Sourav Ganguly said that the media should refrain from criticising Sachin Tendulkar who is likely to play his last Test at the Eden Gardens starting Wednesday.
Post Ricky Ponting's retirement, there has been talks that Tendulkar should also follow suit, but Ganguly thinks otherwise.
"The retirement of Ricky Ponting does not mean that Tendulkar should also quit. We all hope he goes with his with his head held high. The problem with Tendulkar is that people always look at his negative sides. Nobody talks about his centuries and the wins he has given us," Ganguly told during a promotional event.
Wishing Tendulkar luck ahead of his probable last Test at Eden, Ganguly said it's important for him to get past 30-run mark.
Thief nabbed after bragging about bank robbery on YouTube
An online video titled "Chick Bank Robber" has gone viral in the US, as news spread of a 19-year-old woman from Nebraska who was arrested after allegedly posting the YouTube video bragging about her recent bank heist.
"I just stole a car and robbed a bank," wrote Hannah Sabata in the video, who was arrested last week and is facing charges that she stole a car and robbed a bank in the town of Waco, Nebraska Nov 28. That was the same day police say Sabata posted the video online detailing the crime.
The video, set to music by American punk band Green Day, showed Sabata displaying handmade signs and captions detailing the crime.
After a firey day yesterday, Parliament is all set for round two of the performance. The subject, FDI in Retail, is proving to be extremely divisive. While may tried, yesterday belonged to Sushma Swaraj and Kapil Sibal, who spoke for about four hours between them.
We will have to wait and see who will hold the spotlight today.
The debates will begin at 11 am today. Keep a watch out for our live updates.