With FDI in multi-brand retail to be taken up in the Rajya Sabha — where the government is in a minority —on Thursday and Friday, uncertainty prevails in political circles regarding the debate and vote.
Opposition leaders apprehend disruptions in the Upper House to prevent voting from taking place. They allege that the Samajwadi Party (SP) and Bahujan Samajwadi Party (BSP) may be active this time at the behest of a government that faces the prospect of defeat.
The logic: while SP and BSP walked out before voting in the Lok Sabha, their abstention alone will not fetch the government the numbers in the Rajya Sabha.
Here, one of them must vote for the government for it to have a chance to win. The government has about 106 votes, the opposition 114, SP nine and the BSP 15.
If SP or BSP wants to avoid a U-turn on their opposition to the reform during the Lok Sabha debate to help the government by voting for retail FDI in the Rajya House, disruption could be a logical option.
What compounds the fear of the opposition is that Thursday is both the 20th anniversary of the Babri mosque’s demolition and the death anniversary of Dalit icon BR Ambedkar.
After the Rajya Sabha was adjourned on Wednesday due to protests from SP and BSP, leader of opposition Arun Jaitley publicly said the government didn't want a vote in the Rajya Sabha.
“The government is unsure of its figures in the Upper House. Both the government and its allies, including outside supporters, are disrupting the House,” Jaitley said, adding, “I have a suspicion the government has no intention to allow Rajya Sabha to conduct its business.”