Vote on FDI buys uneasy house peace

New Delhi, Nov. 29: Amid extreme unease within a section of the government over an executive decision being put to vote in Parliament, there will be discussions in both Houses on allowing FDI in multi-brand retail under rules that entail voting.

The winter session of Parliament began functioning normally today only after the government agreed to the condition set by the NDA and the Left, even as sources revealed that Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and several top ministers were opposed to this kind of a compromise as it creates an unhealthy precedent.

Some ministers felt this will severely undermine the mandate the government enjoys to take decisions. They rejected the Balco precedent, arguing the Opposition had then not questioned the government's disinvestment policy and insisted on a vote only to protect a profit-making public undertaking from being sold at an undervalued rate.

The Vajpayee government had sold 51 per cent of the Bharat Aluminium Co Ltd (Balco) to Sterlite Industries and the Opposition forced a debate followed by voting on March 1, 2001, in the Lok Sabha alleging corruption in the deal. However, some important Congress leaders see merit in the Opposition's logic that opening the retail sector is a far bigger issue than corruption in Balco and believe the stiff parliamentary resistance only reflects the robustness of India's democracy.

Requesting anonymity because the party has fully come out in support of the government, with both Sonia Gandhi and Rahul explicitly extolling the virtues of FDI, one senior leader told The Telegraph: "We were forced to make a much stronger law, with several unique safeguards, only because of the stiff opposition. We must respect the views of what look likes the majority in this case."

But the concern on the other side is about this precedent being used to paralyse the decision-making process in future. One senior cabinet minister argued: "It is sad that such pre-conditions are now being given to run Parliament. What will happen if the Opposition demands vote on a few executive decisions in every session? What if the government is told by a foreign country to take parliamentary approval before signing an agreement?"

This debate will continue for long but the vote is now going to create other worries for the government as the SP has linked its response to the bill on quota in promotions for SC/ST which the BSP wants passed without delay. If the government tries to stall this bill, the BSP will create problems. The government cannot defeat the Opposition without help from these two parties, which are expected to walk out instead of voting with the NDA and the Left.

The debate will start in the Lok Sabha on Tuesday next while the timing in Rajya Sabha hasn't been fixed though it will happen next week only. This virtual trial of strength, though it doesn't affect the Government's longevity, also gives an opportunity to the Congress to test its ability to face future challenges, including the no-confidence motion and passage of budget early next year. Congress spokesperson Rashid Alvi today claimed support of the majority in both the Houses though he said it was unfortunate the presiding officers were dictated on the nature of debate and an executive decision was being put to vote.

Alvi argued that democracy would be strengthened if Parliament functioned according to rules and the opposition refrained from setting pre-conditions for normal proceedings. Both the Houses began normal work today after Lok Sabha Speaker Meira Kumar said in the morning, "I have received 30 notices for discussion on FDI in multi-brand retail under Rule 184. I have admitted the motion to allow the discussion." In the Rajya Sabha, minister of state for parliamentary affairs Rajiv Shukla said, the Government has agreed to a discussion on FDI under rule 168 that entails voting.

Matches

MORE TOP STORIES TODAY

Kolkata bowling vs Bangalore batting might

Kolkata bowling vs Bangalore batting might

The likely return of Gayle will boost Bangalore, but the result could be determined by Kolkata's bowlers. More »

Gambhir a knock away from striking form - KKR coach

Gambhir a knock away from striking form - KKR coach

Gautam made an eight-ball duck in the opening game against Mumbai and in the second game against Delhi, he lasted only half those balls. More »

Jadeja spins out Rajasthan in close chase

Jadeja spins out Rajasthan in close chase

IPL 7, GAME 10—Chennai beat Rajasthan by 7 runs after last-over scare. More »

April 24: A legend is born

As Sachin Tendulkar turns 41 - here's a look at some offbeat moments from the Master Blaster's innings. More »

Cleaning up the game starts with fans

Cleaning up the game starts with fans

... because, as recent events reveal, the BCCI has little intention of doing it. More »

Rivals say Srini group delaying BCCI special general meeting

Rivals say Srini group delaying BCCI special general meeting

The group opposed to Srinivasan alleged that since BCCI secretary Sanjay Patel belongs to the president’s group, he was intentionally delaying the SGM… More »

Vithanage, Priyanjan get T20 call-ups

Vithanage, Priyanjan get T20 call-ups

Herath has been rested, while the team will be without the veteran pair of Mahela Jayawardene and Kumar Sangakkara, who retired from T20 internationals… More »

SL in 'difficult place' after Farbrace exit

SL in 'difficult place' after Farbrace exit

Sri Lanka depart for assignments in Ireland and England in two weeks, and Sanath Jayasuriya suggested Marvan Atapattu would be interim head coach for those… More »

Farbrace is England's assistant coach

Farbrace is England's assistant coach

The ECB continued the restructuring of the England coaching set-up on Wednesday by announcing the appointment of Paul Farbrace as assistant coach. More »

Chandimal axed as T20 captain

Chandimal axed as T20 captain

Sri Lanka's cricket selectors on Wednesday sacked Dinesh Chandimal as Twenty20 captain and replaced him with Lasith Malinga, while Angelo Mathews was… More »

'BCCI should have picked panel with care'

'BCCI should have picked panel with care'

Dalmiya said that it was the first time that the BCCI had been faced with a situation where the apex court had hauled up the Board and it should have acted… More »

SC asks Mudgal committee to continue

SC asks Mudgal committee to continue

Mukul Mudgal has communicated to the court his willingness to take up the investigation and has been asked to specify the terms and modalities on April… More »

Sri Lanka players resolve pay dispute

Sri Lanka players resolve pay dispute

The pay dispute between Sri Lanka Cricket and its 13 contracted players ended on Wednesday when the latter agreed to accept 10 percent of the participation… More »

Hope to be fit for next game - Pietersen

Hope to be fit for next game - Pietersen

With two heavy defeats at the hands of Bangalore and Chennai, Daredevils currently languish near the bottom of the table. More »

'SC decision could hurt BCCI's status'

'SC decision could hurt BCCI's status'

The Supreme Court prefers that the Justice Mudgal panel further investigate the IPL corruption scandal. More »

Mudgal panel drops bombshell in court

Mudgal panel drops bombshell in court

The Mukul Mudgal probe committee dropped a bombshell in the Supreme Court on Tuesday by making a sensational claim that it was forced to stop audio recording… More »

Perfect Punjab trounce Hyderabad

Perfect Punjab trounce Hyderabad

IPL7, GAME 9—Maxwell (95, 43b), Balaji (4-13) set up 72-run win. More »

Have the ECB played an unfair game?

Have the ECB played an unfair game?

Money talks, but it is in light of this ICC shakeup that the ECB's act of soliciting of another team's coach deteriorates from free-market aggression to… More »

Farbrace quits for England post

Farbrace quits for England post

He will assist Peter Moores who was unveiled as the new England coach on Saturday. More »

Moin appointed to manage Pakistan team

Moin appointed to manage Pakistan team

Pakistan on Monday reappointed Moin Khan as chief selector and manager of the national team, a week after fellow former captain Rashid Latif turned down… More »

Chennai smash Delhi for first win

Chennai smash Delhi for first win

IPL7, MATCH 8—Raina-led middle order, superlative catching give CSK a 93-run win. More »

'BCCI reputation lowest in 80 years'

'BCCI reputation lowest in 80 years'

The former BCCI president says he was "disillusioned" by the happenings at the emergent working committee meeting on Sunday. More »

Injured Bravo to miss rest of IPL

Injured Bravo to miss rest of IPL

Dwayne Bravo is set to be sidelined for at least four weeks due to a shoulder problem. Bravo sustained the injury when attempting a catch on the boundary… More »

NZC contemplates domestic revamp

NZC contemplates domestic revamp

New Zealand Cricket has put forward a proposal to reinvent its domestic structure and allow up to 49% private investment into the six major associatio… More »