In his speech punctuated with protests by the opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), Union Commerce and Industry Minister Anand Sharma in Rajya Sabha said on Friday that almost all chief ministers of India were consulted on the issue of Foreign Direct Investment (FDI).
After sailing through Lok Sabha, the UPA government is eyeing a victory for FDI in multi-brand retail in the Rajya Sabha vote on Friday with BSP supremo Mayawati promising the support of her 15 MPs.
"I consulted all. I went to meet West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee though it is a different issue that she said that she cannot support us because it will then go against her election manifesto and we respect that," said Sharma speaking on the debate on FDI.
He said the Union Secretary had written to Chief Secretaries of all states for their opinions and of the 21 states which responded, eleven had supported the move.
He said he may have less knowledge but he is not ill informed on issues related to FDI.
"It is said the country will be one of sales boys and girls. Please do not disrespect the boys and girls in our cities and villages who are poor but engaged in the job of selling," he said.
BJP disrupted his speech by challenging his figures on the wastage of agricultural produce with Leader of the Opposition in upper house Arun Jaitley demanding clarifications on the figures.
Sharma claimed that consumer forums and unions were also consulted and no state can be compelled to implement FDI in multi brand retail while one state cannot prevent another to not implement it either.
Earlier on Thursday, Mayawati´s Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) decided to support the government.
"What is good is that it is not compulsory for all states. We have also considered whether to stand with communal forces. There can be disruption in the coming days. Important bills are pending, the government will get the excuse to escape important issues. That´s why looking at plus points, the BSP will vote in favour of the government," Mayawati said on Thursday.
The Samajwadi Party (SP) said it would walk out of the Rajya Sabha during the FDI voting in Rajya Sabha.
"We will not vote with the government," Samajwadi Party MP Ram Gopal Yadav was quoted as saying.
With the SP abstaining, the halfway number in the upper House comes down to 118 and figures suggest that the government will just scrape through.