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Nov 14, 2012 at 04:09pm IST

Congress says FDI will help economy, Oppn set to corner UPA in Parliament

New Delhi: The winter session of Parliament is just a week away and FDI in retail is likely to be the big issue on which the government and the opposition will take on each other. Despite opposition from several parties including the BJP, Trinamool Congress, Samajwadi Party, CPM, BJD, JD(U), etc, the government had gone ahead and notified FDI in retail on September 14.

The government has stuck to its guns and backed FDI, claiming that the move will help the economy even as the opposition has been crying foul by pointing out that such a move will ruin the small traders and farmers.

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The CPM on Wednesday gave a notice for discussion on FDI in retail in both Houses of Parliament under Rule 168 and Rule 184 that entail voting. Earlier, CPM leader Basudeb Acharia said on Tuesday that opposing FDI in multi-brand retail was the party's "top priority" in the winter session of Parliament.

The CPM has stolen a march over the Trinamool Congress, which had also said it would be opposing FDI in retail. Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee is also likely to give a similar notice. Mamata had withdrawn support to the UPA earlier in 2012 over FDI in retail and rise in fuel prices. Government sources say it is now for the Speaker to take a call on the notice.

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Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has also said it will oppose the government decision in Parliament and try to build a joint strategy with NDA partners and other political parties. "BJP will strongly oppose the government decision on FDI in multi-brand retail in the forthcoming winter session of Parliament. This decision is not in the interest of the country," party chief spokesperson Ravi Shankar Prasad said.

But BJP ally Shiromani Akali Dal has not made its stand clear on FDI in retail. Punjab Deputy Chief Minister Sukhbir Singh Badal had said that his party will back FDI if Centre addresses the concerns of traders. But BJP later clarified that the Akali Dal was against FDI.

Meanwhile, the Congress allies are also keeping the party guessing. DMK has stated that it will not reveal its stand on FDI just yet. Party chief M Karunanidhi who said the DMK stand should be a suspense has also stated that the party's decision would ensure the interests of traders and vendors. The NCP, however, has made it clear that it supports FDI in retail.

Among other allies, the Samajwadi Party is opposed to FDI in retail. The BSP is yet to give a commitment despite the Prime Minister's dinner and lunch diplomacy with Mulayam Singh Yadav and Mayawati.

But the Congress is confident of crossing the hurdle. When asked whether they have the numbers, Minister of State for Information and Broadcasting Manish Tewari said, "FDI in retail is a much-needed reform that needs to be undertaken to help the economy grow at a fast pace. We will cross the bridge when we come to it."

With the FDI in retail notification, multinational retailers can invest up to 51 per cent to open stores in 10 states and UTs which, till date, have agreed to implement the decision. The government has left it for the states to decide whether they want to implement FDI in retail.

The numbers in Parliament:

UPA in Lok Sabha - 252

CONG - 204 (Including two nominated members from Anglo-Indian community)

DMK - 18

NCP - 9

RLD - 5

NC - 3

Others - 9

Independent MPs - 4 (Only those who have given letters of support)

10 others formally supporting UPA?

IUML - 2

AIMM - 1


BPF - 1

Kerala Cong - 1

SDF - 1

VCK - 1

SWP - 1

BVA - 1

Outside support to UPA - 50

BSP - 21

SP - 22

RJD - 4

JDS - 3


BJP - 114

JDU - 20

SS - 11

SAD - 4

JMM - 2

Left, TMC and Others - 87


TMC - 19

BJD - 14

ADMK - 9

TDP - 6

JVM - 2

Others - 13 (INCLUDES TRS - 2, YSR CONG - 2, AGP - 1, MDMK - 1, HJC - 1, NPF - 1 AND INDEPENDENTS - 5 ,MIM-1)