If the government concedes to a discussion over foreign direct investment (FDI) in multi-brand retail in Parliament under a rule that entails voting, it is going to be a tightrope walk for the government.
The BJP has insisted on nothing short of an adjournment motion in the Lok Sabha —something its leader LK Advani underlined to finance minister Pranab Mukherjee on Wednesday. The motion is moved on an issue of urgent public importance and entails voting.
The BJP says the motion must call for a "withdrawal" of the decision and not soften the language, as the government wants. Senior party leader Murli Manohar Joshi, on Wednesday, accused the government of taking the decision under pressure from foreign countries and global retail lobbies.There is concern in government circles over the opposition's attempt to subject an executive decision to parliamentary nod. But, the opposition says the issue is far too important for technicalities, and the Cabinet shouldn't have taken a decision affecting "livelihoods" unilaterally, when Parliament is in session.
The government is faced with the task of convincing key allies, such as the Trinamool Congress (TMC) and the Dravida Munnettra Kazhagam (DMK), not to vote against it.
Sources say the government is in talks with the DMK and TMC and is also trying to drum up support from small parties to augment its numbers. The position of Mulayam Singh Yadav's Samajwadi Party (SP) and UP chief minister Mayawati's Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) is going to be crucial.
There are indications that the DMK and TMC may just come around. However, the Left's statement that it will vote against the government even if it means being on the same side as the BJP, can still give the government tense moments. The Shiromani Akali Dal, which has backed the FDI move, is however likely to vote "as NDA (BJP-led opposition grouping National Democratic Alliance) and not as an individual party", a key aide of Punjab CM Parkash Singh Badal told HT.