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Mayawati to vote for FDI, Govt likely to win in Rajya Sabha too

Source : AGENCIES
Last Updated: Thu, Dec 06, 2012 12:11 hrs
India's BSP Chief Mayawati gestures as she address the media during a news conference in New Delhi

New Delhi: Mayawati, the president of the Bahujan Samaj Party, said on Thursday she would back the government on the FDI-in-retail vote in the Rajya Sabha, virtually ensuring that an opposition motion against the reform will be defeated.

"Our party will vote in favour of the government tomorrow," Mayawati said during a debate on a policy that would bring global chains such as Wal-Mart Stores Inc to India's $450 billion retail sector.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's minority coalition government won a non-binding vote on the same issue in the Lok Sabha on Wednesday thanks to abstentions from the BSP and the Samajwadi Party.



It had looked set to lose in the Rajya Sabha vote scheduled for Friday because it has fewer parliamentary seats there.

However, the capricious Mayawati's unexpected pledge of support from her party's 15 Rajya Sabha MPs means the government may be able to count on as many as 117 votes, which - if the Samajwadi Party abstained - would be just enough to win in the 245-seat chamber.

Mayawati - whose power base is in the country's most-populous state Uttar Pradesh - said her decision was partly based on the government's willingness to let individual states decide whether they allowed in foreign retailers.

A second win on the retail policy will be a much-needed boost for Singh as he tries to drive a second wave of reforms through a fractious parliament. The debate over retail reform has proved a costly distraction for the minority government, eating up two weeks of parliament's month-long winter session.

The government's win on FDI would clear the way for voting on bills aimed at attracting foreign investment to the ailing pension and insurance industries, two measures seen by financial markets as important steps in further liberalising an economy in the midst of a slowdown.

The stock market recovered early losses after Mayawati's announcement, rising for the third day. Gains were led by a rebound in rate sensitive stocks on hopes of momentum on the pension and insurance bills.

Irate BJP asks Mayawati to explain reasons for changing stand on FDI

The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) on Thursday questioned Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) supremo Mayawati for targetting Leader of Opposition in Lok Sabha Sushma Swaraj during the debate on FDI in the Rajya Sabha, and asked her to explain the reasons for changing the strategy on the issue within a short span of one day.

BJP also criticized Mayawati for the kind of vocabulary she used while attacking the main opposition and its leaders in her speech in the Rajya Sabha.

"This is the most abusive, substandard comments of Mayawati and was unparliamentary. We welcome criticism but this was abuse and that too against the leader of opposition who is an eminent leader," Prasad said.

Mayawati had used some terms - ostensibly against Sushma Swaraj without naming her- during her speech in the Upper House during the FDI debate. BJP had vehemently objected to it.

He said the change in the BSP's stand on the issue of FDI in the retail sector is worst case of political opportunism and political hypocrisy.

"The BSP needs to explain today that how in one day's time, its entire strategy changed. Opposing FDI, walking out in Lok Sabha and neatly opposing FDI in Rajya Sabha and declaring to support the government. The party, which talks of the poor man, the poor, the marginalised, the 'mazdoor' and the small retailers, is today standing up with FDI of big giants. This is worst case of political opportunism and political hypocrisy. Why this sudden change in one day? Lok Sabha walk out and Rajya Sabha support," said Prasad.

"Obviously, what we have been apprehending, the FDI has to neatly submit inside the house before the might of the CBI. And that is what is happening. We all know that the Disproportionate Assets (DA) case in the Supreme Court is still pending in which notice has been given to Mayawati ji, the CBI is a party there. Therefore, the people of the country are watching it," he added.

Prasad, however, said 'the only positive outcome is that in both the houses the quality of debate and the quality of information has been outstanding'.

BJP on Thursday alleged that the manner in which BSP changed its stand on the FDI in retail issue within "one day" by announcing that it will vote with the government in the Rajya Sabha smacks of a deal between the party and the ruling Congress.

"Why this metamorphosis in the BSP in one day? They boycotted FDI in retail during the debate in the Lok Sabha but have declared open support to it. BSP must explain what was the compulsion that led to the change," deputy leader of BJP in Rajya Sabha Ravi Shankar Prasad said.

Mayawati announced in the Rajya Sabha that BSP will vote with the government on the FDI in retail issue. The party had staged a walkout yesterday in the Lok Sabha, moments before the FDI issue was put to vote.

"The surrounding circumstances are too suspicious to indicate a deal between BSP and Congress," Prasad said.

Sushma's insinuation over CBI cases pushes Mayawati into UPA's fold

 A livid Mayawati on Thursday took potshots at senior BJP leader Sushma Swaraj over her claim that the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) abstained from voting on the FDI issue in the Lok Sabha because of CBI pressure, and announced that she would vote with the Congress-led Government in the Rajya Sabha on Friday.

She said that her party decided to back the government after taking into consideration the fact that FDI in retail will not be forced upon the states.

The BSP chief said the only plus point of the FDI policy is that it will not be forced upon the states and that the latter are free to choose on whether to implement it or not.

"Like the Lok Sabha, we wanted to abstain in the Rajya Sabha... but if the opposition's motion goes through tomorrow then they will get a political peg and the house will not function... many important legislations will go on the back burner...

Considering all these factors, we will vote with the government in the Rajya Sabha tomorrow," she added.

Mayawati, however, said it should be seen that the domestic markets are not hit while allowing FDI.

"BSP and most of the people in this country feel that this decision will impact the small traders and manufacturers adversely. India's economy will also be impacted and people fear that we will be economically dependent on foreign companies," she added.

Mayawati also asked the government not to take a hurried decision on the issue of FDI in the retail sector.

"We suggest that the Centre should try this policy out in some Congress-ruled states and see how the experience is in a time bound fashion," she said.

Taking on the Leader of Opposition in Lok Sabha, Mayawati said Sushma Swaraj was suffering from the 'sour grapes' syndrome.

The Rajya Sabha witnessed an uproar following Mayawati's jibe at Sushma Swaraj as the BJP lawmakers were up on their feet raising objections to the BSP chief's remark.

Parliamentary Affairs Minister Kamal Nath came out in full defence of Mayawati, saying her comment was not unparliamentary.

The BSP chief said the opposition party has very often accused her of being under pressure from CBI.

"This has become fashionable for the opposition. Since the BJP is a responsible party and they have hinted at us being under pressure from the CBI, we need to elucidate how the BJP abused the CBI when it was in power," she added.

Mayawati alleged that the BJP used the CBI to target her in the Taj Corridor scam.

Mayawati further said the BJP used the CBI to put pressure on the BSP to agree to a pre-poll alliance.

BJP used the CBI to target me, says Mayawati

Mayawati lashed out at Leader of Opposition in Lok Sabha Sushma Swaraj during the debate on FDI in the Rajya Sabha earlier on Thursday, and alleged that the latter was suffering from the 'sour grapes' syndrome.

Mayawati said the opposition party has very often accused her of being under pressure from CBI.

" This has become fashionable for the opposition. Since the BJP is a responsible party and they have hinted at us being under pressure from the CBI, we need to elucidate how the BJP abused the CBI when it was in power," she added.

Mayawati alleged that the BJP used the CBI to target her in the Taj Corridor scam.

Mayawati further said the BJP used the CBI to put pressure on the BSP to agree to a pre-poll alliance.

"I feel it is important to share how CBI was misused during NDA tenure. Ruling BJP at that time had put pressure of CBI on me. I would like to inform you that BJP investigated all cases for political purpose," she said participating in the debate in Rajya Sabha on FDI in multi-brand retail.

The CBI was directed to investigate the Taj corridor and disproportionate assets cases after the BSP refused to fight 2004 general elections along with BJP, she said, adding that it was the BJP government in the state which took the decision on the Taj Corridor issue.

"In 2003, BJP said it was in favour of contesting election along with BSP. I said we can form the government but cannot contest elections together because of ideological differences. I refused to contest election and they said they will withdraw support. They did and I resigned as chief minister," she said.

After the change in power, the two cases were pending with CBI. "But for last 8-9 years, opposition parties particularly BJP continued their propaganda whenever voting issue came," Mayawati said.

"We have never given in to communal forces. We have never been afraid of the CBI nor of the Congress and BJP Governments at the Centre," she said.

Mayawati, who had walked out of the Lok Sabha ahead of voting on the FDI issue yesterday, said that she would back the government on the issue in the Rajya Sabha on Friday.

She said that the BSP decided to back the government after taking into consideration the fact that FDI in retail will not be forced upon the states.

"We have never given in to communal forces. We have never been afraid of the CBI nor of the Congress and BJP Governments at the Centre," said Mayawati.

"Jo baatein humko padne ko mili hain, woh inke chichorepan, ocheypan aur choteypan ko darshata hain," (smallness and cheap mentality) she added.

Upset over the Bahujan Samaj Party's decision to walk out of the Lok Sabha just ahead of voting on FDI yesterday, Sushma Swaraj in her speech concluding the debate wondered if the CBI was closer to the party's interest or FDI.


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