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HindustanTimes Thu,27 Nov 2014

Winter session to test Kamal Nath’s diplomatic skills

Varghese K George and Saubhadra Chatterji, Hindustan Times  New Delhi, November 22, 2012
First Published: 00:21 IST(22/11/2012) | Last Updated: 08:02 IST(22/11/2012)

BJP patriarch Lal Krishna Advani's words at the all party meeting on Wednesday would have been music to ears for parliamentary affairs minister Kamal Nath.

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"I came here especially since Kamal Nath has requested me to come," he said before the meeting.

Still, the session is going to put all of Nath's diplomatic skills to test as the opposition is adamantly insisting on a voting on government allowing FDI in multi-brand retail.

"We want Parliament to run. But it depends on the attitude of the government. We want a discussion on FDI policy under rule 184 (with voting)," said Sushma Swaraj, leader of opposition.

http://www.hindustantimes.com/Images/Popup/2012/11/22_11_12-metro10.jpg

At the all party meeting, the tone for a tussle was set as one after another opposition leader insisted on discussion on FDI under rules that entails voting.

CPI's Gurudas Dasgupta went a step further and said it is not just a question of FDI but the government's role in violating its own undertaking to the House that it will talk to all stakeholders to build consensus on FDI.

Dasgupta, supported by Advani, also demanded a white paper on economy.

Agriculture minister Sharad Pawar and Nath said the government is ready to discuss any issue but the rules of engagement will be decided by the Speaker.

"There can be a discussion but they cannot insist that it must be under this particular rule or on this particular date," said Nath. However, Nath does not want to be confrontational with the opposition.

"I avoid confrontations," he said. 

Nath will be digging into the goodwill and friendship that he has developed over more than three decades in Parliament - he has been a member of the Lok Sabha for 32 years, but this will be his first session after taking over as the parliamentary affairs minister.

He has cultivated relationships across parties, primarily by being of help to all. "Kamal kaam ka aadmi hein," as a BJP leader admits. Moreover, he has excellent personal rapport with two of UP's warring politicians - Mulayam Singh Yadav and Mayawati.  Yadav and Mayawati are outside supporters of the UPA but both are keeping the government on tenterhooks with their opposition to FDI.

"We know him since ages. He hails from Kolkata and we enjoy excellent personal rapport," Trinamool's Lok Sabha leader Sudip Bandopadhyay told HT.

Meanwhile, the Congress is keen on facing a no-confidence motion rather than allowing a discussion on FDI under rule 184 that entails voting.

Congress managers are aware that discussion under 184 will embarrass the government as it is yet to garner numbers in its favour from key supporters like DMK, SP and BSP. But on a no-confidence motion, the understanding is that no party wants mid-term elections.

Meanwhile, the Shiv Sena has demanded that the opening day of the session be a "holiday" to mourn Bal Thackeray's death.


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