It appears to be an obsession which both the government and Opposition cannot seem to get over. From the beginning of the winter session of Parliament and even before, the issue of FDI in the multi-brand retail seems to be only subject which has been talked about, albeit contentiously. Now that the government, after consultations with its allies, has said it is not averse to a vote on FDI in Parliament, but that it would leave the decision to the Speaker, perhaps our elected representatives can move on with other matters which affect the lives of the people who voted them to power. The government has perhaps agreed to a vote, something that the BJP and Left have been adamant about, after the DMK clearly expressed its intention of supporting the government on this. The DMK has made it clear that it has not suddenly developed a fondness for the government but that it does not want the UPA to fall lest communal forces take over. Meanwhile, of course, seemingly oblivious to the tussle over FDI, the Trinamool Congress is still hoping to bring about a no-confidence motion to topple the government, even though it burnt its fingers earlier.
There is no doubt that the issue of FDI in retail is a very important one. But it would appear that the parties opposing it do not have much faith in how robust the Indian entrepreneur is. To suggest that Indian businesses and Indian farmers will go under if FDI comes in is to paint an overtly gloomy picture. In any case, the whole of Parliament cannot be held hostage to whether or not there should be a vote on FDI in retail. That can be discussed alongside other major issues which are pending before Parliament. For example, it would have been fruitful to have a debate on security preparedness before the fourth anniversary of 26/11. People should get a sense that Parliament is concerned with issues that directly touch their lives and that political parties are not busy scoring points over each other. It is significant that the Lokpal Bill which saw such high emotion in the last session of Parliament seems to have been put on the backburner.
We keep hearing that parties are trying to work out a consensus on so many issues but in reality, there seems to be little meeting ground among all of them on so many vital issues. There are very few days left in this session of Parliament. Our elected representatives have to put their egos aside, resolve their differences and get some work done which will be of benefit to the people. It would be heartening if they could broaden this obsession with FDI in retail to other pending issues. Then we might actually see Parli-ament start work after a pretty long period of fruitless activity.