Ahead of Tuesday’s Lok Sabha debate on FDI in multi-brand retail under a parliamentary rule that entails voting, Bahujan Samajwadi Party chief Mayawati gave explicit hints at a press conference that her 21 members could consider voting for the UPA.
“Two issues are clear. First, the BSP will not align with the communal forces in opposing FDI. Second, we welcome the ‘big plus point’ of the FDI policy, allowing the states to decide whether or not to permit FDI entry,” Mayawati said.
“Our MPs will keep these issues in mind at the time of voting on the issue,” she declared, but made it clear that the BSP’s final decision on voting or abstaining would be taken on the floor of the House. “Our final stand will depend on the government’s response to concerns and issues raised by us.”
Interestingly, Mayawati’s statement came on the day parliamentary affairs minister Kamal Nath announced the government’s commitment to a constitution amendment bill providing for promotions for SC/STs in government jobs — a key demand of the BSP chief which is being vehemently opposed by SP chief Mulayam Singh Yadav.
But asked if BSP is putting the passage of the reservation in promotion for SC/STs as a pre-condition for supporting the UPA, Mayawati replied in the negative.
The debate is likely to be initiated in the Lok Sabha on Tuesday afternoon by leader of the opposition Sushma Swaraj. The voting will take place on Wednesday evening. Altogether, eight hours have been allotted to 30 speakers from various political parties to debate.
Commerce minister Anand Sharma is scheduled to reply before the opposition motion is put to vote on Wednesday evening.
Although Mayawati said her party was not “against the idea of FDI”, she asked the government to do a "serious analysis" of the impact on the poor and the middle class before implementing it. The Congress-ruled states should first experiment with the policy before the government took a final call, she said.
The BSP chief also criticised the government for claiming that FDI in retail would bring down prices of commodities. She said, “Inflation and unemployment are rising and the rupee is getting continuously devalued because of the wrong economic policies of the government.”
Taking a dig at the SP leaders, Mayawati said, “If the SP leaders have no thinking on FDI or other matters, what could be done? Every time, they are looking to us to take the lead.”