The ruling UPA sailed through Rajya Sabha, defeating the Opposition motion against its decision to allow 51% foreign direct investment in multi-brand retail despite a considerable number of speakers opposing the move in the two-day debate.
The FDI decision that led to the washout of the first four days of the winter session was earlier endorsed by Lok Sabha.
Now, with the Parliament seal on FDI bagged, the government announced its intention to push other reform measures next week.On Friday, the UPA finally mopped up 123 votes against the combined Opposition tally of 102 in the House around 9pm- after several glitches leading to disputes over the tallies thrice.
The debate in Rajya Sabha saw Lok Sabha script being repeated - some parties such as the Samajwadi Party and the DMK opposed the policy in speeches but desisted from actually voting against it.
What's more, the UPA's victory margin of 21 votes showed that even without the 15 MPs of the Bahujan Samaj Party voting in its favour, the ruling alliance would have posted a victory.
The government was further helped by three MPs of the Telugu Desam Party, who absented themselves during the voting though their party strongly opposed the government.
"If you go by the speeches, it seems that an overwhelming majority of the members of the Rajya Sabha have voted against FDI in retail," said senior BJP leader M Venkaiah Naidu.
But finance minister P Chidambaram argued that in parliamentary democracy, "members present and voting" doesn't always match "members present and speaking".
The UPA, however, still has to cross the hurdle of getting the amendments to the Foreign Exchange Management Act (Fema) cleared in Rajya Sabha, which is likely to happen only during the budget session next year.
Replying to the debate, commerce minister Anand Sharma said the government was not imposing the FDI policy on anyone, since it will allow the state governments to decide whether or not to implement it.
The second day of the debate in the House saw heated exchanges between Sharma and the Opposition, leading to noisy scenes and even disruptions in proceedings.
Sharma accused the Opposition of scaring foreign investors.