Deadlock over FDI in multi-brand retail continues in Parliament even on day three of the Winter Session
The same script was played out again on the third day of the Winter Session of Parliament. On Monday 26 November, both the Houses of Parliament convened at 11am and were adjourned for an hour. When the Houses met again, they were adjourned for the day. The demands were same, the Opposition wanting a debate on FDI in multi-brand retail under rules which entail voting, while the government wanting a debate without voting. Hence ensuring that the stalemate continues. The other issues which the Opposition raised were reservation in promotion and the cap on LPG cylinders.
The government, in a bid to ensure that Parliament functions and the stalemate is broken, had called an all party meeting to discuss the issue. Before the meeting, hectic back-door meetings took place between the government and its allies. These included Samajwadi Party chief Mulayam Singh Yadav meeting the Prime Minister. Also, TR Baalu of the DMK met the Parliamentary Affairs minister Kamal Nath.
The luncheon All Party Meeting also remained inconclusive with both the sides refusing to change their positions. The BJP, JD-U and the Left parties insisted that voting should take place after the debate. The TMC insisted that debate is important, not the rule, and wanted the Speaker to take a final call on the issue. BSP supremo Mayawati said, “We should leave the matter to the Chair of both the Houses to decide under which rule the discussion on FDI in multi-brand retail should be held.” The Samajwadi Party also is not insisting on a vote after the debate on FDI.
The government had given a compromise formula in the form of a resolution which could be adopted by both the Houses after the debate was over. The resolution would have been worded with the consent of the Opposition. The wording would have stated that FDI in multi-brand retail is just an enabling provision and that the state governments are free to decide whether they would allow FDI in multi-brand retail in their state or not. However, this formula also was not acceptable to the BJP.
Meanwhile, the government got a breather in the All Party Meeting when TMC, SP and BSP decided to leave the matter to the Speaker rather than demand a vote after the debate.
The government has decided that the FDI in multi-brand retail is an executive decision and not a legislative decision. So it feels that a vote by Parliament on a decision which is executive in nature is not according to the rules.
With both the principal players sticking to their stand, smooth functioning of the Winter Session remains a distant reality.