UPA, Opposition Agree On FDI Vote To End Parliament Logjam

NEW DELHI – With the government agreeing to a debate and vote on its foreign direct investment (FDI) policy should the Lok Sabha speaker decide, Parliament is likely to function on Thursday.

After a meeting with the main opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leaders Sushma Swaraj and Arun Jaitley on Wednesday, parliamentary affairs minister Kamal Nath said the government has left it to presiding officers to decide. “Let them take any decision they want in the interest of running the House,” he said.

Asked if the government was ready for voting on FDI as the opposition is firm on its stand, Nath said, “We are not averse to it.”

The BJP leaders, who have been demanding a vote on the issue, saying that the government did not honour its assurance to Parliament that all stakeholders would be consulted before taking a decision on FDI in supermarkets, reiterated that they want the debate under Rule 184 that entails voting.

The winter session of Parliament began on 22 November but has already lost four days over the matter. Besides the BJP, Left parties, Biju Janata Dal, Telugu Desam party and All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam want the discussion to be followed by voting.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has said the United Progressive Alliance government has the adequate numbers to win a vote. With all its allies backing its stand, the government is also relying on the support of friendly parties such as the Samajwadi Party and the Bahujan Samaj Party for a majority.

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