With the Opposition finding a common ground in pushing for a vote on foreign direct investment (FDI) in multi-brand retail and the government firmly rejecting the possibility, both sides are on a collision course as the winter session begins November 22.
The Lok Sabha Speaker would decide the rule for discussion on the FDI issue and all parties would be consulted, parliamentary affairs minister Kamal Nath said.
“There is no precedence of a discussion on a government’s executive policy decision under rule 184 (which entails voting) in Lok Sabha. This view will be conveyed to the chair,” he said.
The government is covering all flanks ahead of the showdown. Terming DMK, which has been vociferous in its opposition to FDI in retail, a valuable partner, commerce and industry minister Anand Sharma said the Prime Minister would talk to the southern ally over the issue again.
“The UPA will hold stronger... There could be different perceptions on different issues. But all the parties in the UPA will come together in the interest of the nation,” Sharma, who accompanied Manmohan Singh to Asean and East Asia summits in Cambodia, told media on board the PM's aircraft on journey home.
While both the Left and the BJP have served notices under rule 184, it is unclear how far they would go to push for a vote.
A section of Opposition is against disrupting proceedings and notices have been given for discussions under sections that do not require voting.
Members are required to send notices in advance if they want the House to take up an issue.
After a meeting on Tuesday, the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) said it would push for voting as the FDI decision was implemented without consulting parties and state governments - in “violation” of the government's commitment made in Parliament.
Though it declared intention to “explore” the possibility of a no-confidence motion as well, the NDA doesn't seem serious about it.
When reminded that the disinvestment of Balco was debated and voted in 2001 in Parliament, Nath said it was a different matter. “It was not an overall policy issue. It was a standalone case…”
“Balco was not a stand-alone issue but related to the then government's disinvestment process. If Kamal Nath goes through the proceedings of that debate, he will find that members spoke almost entirely on the government's disinvestment policy,” CPM Politburo member Sitaram Yechury told HT.
Balco was the first company to be disinvested by the NDA government, setting the policy in the motion, he said.
The BJP tried to meet Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Bannerjee, who is struggling to find support to carry out the threat to bring a no-confidence motion, halfway. The NDA would consult all possible parties to explore the possibility, it said, but stopped short of promising to help the mercurial Bengal CM move the motion, which requires backing of 50 MPs.
Congress leader Shakeel Ahmed asked Banerjee to clarify if she had a tacit understanding with the BJP.