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Govt confident over FDI vote, FEMA issue

The UPA government today said it was confident of its numbers ahead of a crucial debate with voting on FDI in multi-brand retail in Lok Sabha Dec 4-5.

delhi Updated: Dec 02, 2012 17:26 IST

The UPA government Sunday said it was confident of its numbers ahead of a crucial debate with voting on FDI in multi-brand retail in Lok Sabha Dec 4-5.

"We are confident of the numbers. The opposition motion (on FDI in retail) would be defeated in both houses," parliamentary affairs minister Kamal Nath told CNN-IBN channel in an interview.

The Fema notification dealing with FDI in retail has to be passed by only one House of Parliament, Nath has claimed belying the Opposition stand that the decision cannot be implemented if it falls in Rajya Sabha, where UPA lacks majority.

"If one House has passed it, it passes. It does not need both Houses to pass it. That's what is prescribed in the rules," he told Karan Thapar on Devil's Advocate.

CPI-M leader Sitaram Yechury had said that as per rules, Fema notification on allowing 51% FDI in multi-brand retail has to be laid and passed in both Houses of Parliament.

Failure to do so will be challenged in court, he had said last week.

Nath did not agree with this contention of the Opposition.

"Anything can go to court. If it goes we will deal with it," he said.

The minister insisted that the rules are separate for Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha.

Nath, however, accepted that Fema notification - which can be passed in the budget session as well as the government has 30 working days of Parliament to get the nod - may drag into the next session which is three months away.

He said he has got no assurance from SP and BSP on the FDI issue which will be debated and voted upon in this week in both Houses but expressed confidence they will support UPA.

"I have good reason to believe that they (SP and BSP) will vote with the government because they are a responsible party and that they will understand the politics of it... They are not going to vote for the politics of the BJP," Nath said.

A debate with voting on the issue will take place in Lok Sabha Dec 4 and 5 and later in Rajya Sabha, said government sources.

Though the government is confident of sailing through in the lower house, it does not have the numbers in the upper house.

"We are talking to other parties to support us in both Houses," minister of state for parliamentary affairs Rajeev Shukla said.

The role of the Samajwadi Party (SP) and the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP), which support the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government from outside, would be crucial here, said sources.

Samajwadi Party leader Ram Gopal Yadav surprised everyone last week by saying the party would oppose foreign direct investment (FDI) in multi-brand retail in Rajya Sabha.

"If there is a vote on FDI in Rajya Sabha, we will vote against it. We will not let it pass," Yadav said.

In Rajya Sabha, of the total 245 members, the UPA claims the strength of 90 members. With 27 outside supporters from the BSP, SP, Lok Janshakti Party and the Rashtriya Janata Dal, the government tally stands at 117.

The Opposition claims the support of 110 members. Besides, there are seven Independents, five from smaller parties and 10 nominated members.

While the debate in Lok Sabha will be held under Rule 184, in Rajya Sabha it will be held under Rule 168, both entailing vote.

The BJP and CPI-M had submitted separate notices for a debate with voting provision.

The CPI-M also wants a vote on amendments to the Foreign Exchange Management Act, tabled in Lok Sabha Friday, as these are needed to facilitate FDI in retail.

Both Houses of Parliament have seen repeated disruptions since the winter session began Nov 22.