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Government wins FDI vote in Rajya Sabha

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New Delhi: The government on December 7 won the approval of Parliament to its controversial decision of allowing FDI in multi-brand retail with a motion against it being defeated convincingly in the Rajya Sabha, as BSP voted in favor of UPA.

As many as 123 members voted against the motion while 109 voted in favor after a two-day animated debate during which the Opposition attacked the proposal to allow 51 percent FDI in multi-brand retail, while the government strongly  justified it saying it was in  the best interest of the country.

Samajwadi Party, which has nine members in the House, staged a walkout expressing dissatisfaction over Com-merce Minister Anand Sharma’s reply.

The defeat of the motion moved by AIADMK member V. Maitreyan in the Rajya Sabha came two days after  the Lok Sabha voted out a similar motion, paving the way for entry of global supermarkets like Wal-Mart into the country.

The government’s victory in Rajya Sabha, where UPA lacks a majority of its own, came with the help of 15-member BSP, which had walked out of the Lok Sabha during voting on the issue.

UPA has 94 members in the Upper House, which has an effective strength of 244.

Sachin Tendulkar, nominated member, who is playing test match in Kolkata, Murli Deora (Cong), who is unwell, and rebel BJD leader Pyari Mohan Mahapatra were absent.

Replying to the debate, Maitreyan insisted that majority of the House was not in favor of FDI in multi-brand retail.

The division of votes was marred by some technical glitches because of which the exercise had to be done again. The animated debate saw clashes between government and the Opposition as the sides put forth their arguments and counter arguments.

Sharma questioned BJP’s opposition to FDI in retail saying that when the party was in power, it had plans to allow FDI in retail up to the extent of 100 percent, which was countered vociferously by members from the BJP including Leader of the Opposition Arun Jaitley.

To justify his arguments, Sharma cited a report of a Committee of Planning Commission in 2002 headed by N.K. Singh, now a JD-U member of the Rajya Sabha.

An angry Opposition accused Sharma of misleading the House and demanded an apology from the government as Singh said that the report had concluded that FDI in multi-brand retail was not in interest of the nation at this time.