New Delhi: 5:50 pm: UPA constituent DMK said on Tuesday that it was opposed to foreign direct investment (FDI) in retail, but maintained that it would not vote against the government in Parliament. "We do not want to let you down, we do not want to join the Opposition...we do not want to join the BJP," the DMK told the government in Lok Sabha.
Meanwhile, the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) also opposed the government's move, but remained ambivalent on its stand on voting on Wednesday.
5:23 pm: The Samajwadi Party chief says, "Small traders will not be able to compete with the big retailers. This will lead to unemployment," adding, "With Lok Sabha elections near, FDI in retail sector might not be politically correct for the Congress."
"It is foolish to say presence of foreign retails will kill small retailers in Indian cities," says Telecom Minister Kapil Sibal.
5:12 pm: Mulayam Singh advises the UPA government to drop the decision on FDI in retail, and call an all-party meeting to discuss the issue.
5:08 pm: Samajwadi Party chief Mulayam Singh Yadav addresses the Lok Sabha, saying foreign direct investment (FDI) in retail is not in favour of the country. He claims that the retail FDI would not create jobs in the country.
4:44 pm: Kapil Sibal quotes a statement of Left leader Sitaram Yechury published in 2004 wherein he had supported FDI in retail as well as wholesale.
4:36 pm: NDA minister Murasoli Maran advocated FDI in retail in 2002 in a note for GoM. Many said KFC will drive the dhabas out of the market. Dhabas have driven out KFC. Don't underestimate Indian brands: Kapil Sibal.
4:30 pm: The report that Sushma Swaraj quoted is from the year 2002 and it is very contradictory to what she has quoted: Kapil Sibal
4:29 pm: BJP manifesto in 2004 promised organised retail trade on the international pattern: Kapil Sibal
4:28 pm: Multi-brand retail fdi carries minimum initial investment of $100 million: Sibal.
4:27 pm: It is foolish to say presence of foreign retails will kill small retailers in Indian cities: Kapil Sibal
4:24: pm: Initially retail FDI will be implemented in 18 cities and it will be foolish to say by implementing in 18 cities the small retailers will be in trouble: Kapil Sibal.
4:20 pm: : Debate on retail FDI was not necessary at all: Kapil Sibal.
4:19 pm: My question is if the chief ministers and the people of a state want to implement FDI in their state then how can you (Opposition) stop them from implementation: Sibal. "If any state doesn't want to implement then don't implement FDI. All these talks of Opposition are exaggerated," he says.
4:15 pm: Telecom Minister Kapil Sibal says many states want FDI in retail. He accuses the Opposition of levelling baseless allegations that FDI is a sell-out. Only 53 cities in India qualify for FDI in retail, says Sibal.
3:35 pm: Referring to Prime Minister Manmohan's Singh comment 'If we have to go down, we'll go down fighting', BJP leader Sushma Swaraj said, "Fight for the poor and not for the rich Mr Prime Minister. Fight for the Indian business, not MNCs," Sushma said.
3:20 pm: Speaking during the FDI debate in the Lok Sabha, BJP Sushma Swaraj cited the example of other countries trying to promote small-scale shops. "While cities will shine due to malls, closure of small-scale Indian industries will bring darkness. 84 per cent of local jobs were lost in Iowa when Walmart came there," Sushma said. She said that even US President Barack Obama encourages small-scale shops.
3:16 pm: BJP leader Sushma Swaraj said that the manufacturing sector will face the maximum unemployment due to FDI in retail. "Manufacturing sector will face maximum unemployment. Maximum products available will be from China. China will see growth in both manufacturing sector and employment," Sushma said during the debate on FDI in retail in Lok Sabha.
She also alleged that Walmart paid bribes in India to push for FDI in retail. She said the chief financial officer of Walmart was suspended pending inquiry into this.
3:12 pm: Talking of employment opportunities cited by the government while bringing FDI in retail, BJP leader Sushma Swaraj claimed the government got its facts wrong. "Government claims FDI will give more jobs, will give direct employment to 40 lakh people. According to the Walmart data we have, a Walmart store has a maximum of 214 employees per store. The data given by the government is questionable," Sushma said.
3:00 pm: There was an uproar in the Lok Sabha after BJP leader Sushma Swaraj spoke about sugarcane farmers during the FDI debate. Sushma Swaraj said, "Government talks of reducing the role of middlemen. In the sugar industry, there are no middlemen involved. Sugarcane farmers are suffering, no one is paying them, slips are given to them, we know the politics of sugarcane."
2:52 pm: During the debate on FDI in retail in the Lok Sabha, Leader of the Opposition Sushma Swaraj said that big retailers pay farmers less. "They pay farmers less, employees less, but keep high profits. All over the world, large supermarkets do this," Sushma said.
She also said that even McDonald's does not take potatoes from Indian farmers. "Government should ask McDonald's where does it source potatoes for its fries from. McDonald's never buys potatoes from local Indian farmers, they say the size of potatoes is very small here," Sushma Swaraj said.
2:45 pm: Speaking in the Lok Sabha, BJP leader Sushma Swaraj said that the consumer will lose if there is FDI in retail as the market will shrink to a few players. "Competition is in the interest of consumers, monopoly is not," Sushma Swaraj said.
2:35 pm: Leader of the Opposition in the Lok Sabha Sushma Swaraj thanked the Speaker for allowing a debate on FDIn in retail under rule 184 that entails voting. Sushma said that the government has gone back on its promise for a consensus on FDI in retail. Speaking in the Lok Sabha, she said President Pranab Mukherjee, the then Finance Minister, had promised a discussion on FDI.
"Unlike the promise made on the floor of the House, the government did not even attempt to bring consensus on FDI in retail. No political party was contacted before taking a decision," Sushma said.
2:27 pm: Leader of the Opposition in the Lok Sabha Sushma Swaraj has initiated a debate on FDI in retail in the House. The debate is being carried out under rule 184, which allows voting. The Congress is putting up a brave front saying it's confident that it has the numbers and can pull through this.
Speaker Meira Kumar said she has allowed to combine debate and voting on FDI in retail and FEMA amendment.
2:15 pm: The government has defended the decision to club FDI and FEMA debate and voting. Challenging the Opposition to take part in a vote, Parliamentary Affairs Minister Kamal Nath said, "Why is the Opposition hiding behind a rule and running away from vote?"
2:10 pm: The Bharatiya Janata Party has opposed the clubbing together of FDI and Foreign Exchange Management Act (FEMA) debate and voting. Speaking ahead of the FDI debate in Parliament, BJP MP Yashwant Sinha said that the discussion on the FEMA rules should be pushed to a later date.
11:45 am: Parliamentary Affairs Minister Kamal Nath says he is confident that the motion moved by BJP in Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha will be rejected. "I am urging all parties not to subscribe to the politics of BJP," he said.
10:47 am: The Trinamool Congress will vote against FDI in retail in Parliament, said TMC leader Kalyan Banerjee. Meanwhile, the Samajwadi Party has hinted at bailing out the government even as it has not revealed its stand yet. The party may either vote in favour of the government or abstain from voting.
It is a huge day for Parliament as the Lok Sabha entered into a debate on Tuesday on FDI in multi-brand retail. The debate is being carried out under rule 184, which allows voting. The Congress is putting up a brave front saying it's confident that it has the numbers and can pull through this.
Though speculation hints at Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) chief Mayawati supporting the government, both she and Samajwadi Party chief Mulayam Singh Yadav have said that their parties will take a call on the floor of the House. Both the parties have kept the UPA government on the edge ahead of the crucial debate.
"Our party will decide our stand on FDI in retail through a vote in Parliament after analysing its benefits for the nation. On this issue, our party will decide whether we stand with those who empower communal forces in the nation," Mayawati said on Monday.
Mayawati's guessing game is giving anxious moments to the government, particularly in the Rajya Sabha, where it needs both SP and BSP's helping hand. Sources say that Mayawati could help the Congress out, though for a price. She wants the quota bill to be taken up first in Rajya Sabha.
SP, however, opposes the quota bill and there is a possibility of a repeat of Lokpal scenes in the Rajya Sabha where a debate may not be allowed. This could suit the Congress where it could avoid the embarrassment of a defeat. Mulayam also said, "I am opposed to FDI. I will decide in the Lok Sabha."
Government's floor managers have been working overtime. They are hoping for a last minute abstention from SP and BSP. But if the quota bill is taken up, the possibility of the SP turning its back is high.
In case of a defeat on FDI, the government doesn't fall but it will be a huge embarrassment because the government has hinged FDI as a part of its big bang reforms package. But the real challenge for the government could be in defeating the motions moved by the Left seeking cancellation of FDI enabling FEMA amendments moved by the government on Friday.
While the government wants to delink the two and insists that it needs to win in only one. The Opposition, particularly the Left wants to corner the government by linking the two. While the Lok Sabha seems fine for the government, it's important to win by a huge margin because one it will claim unanimity on FDI and second will be used to project a blow to a united opposition on the issue.
The numbers in the Lok Sabha
Vote on FDI
Congress(206) + DMK(18) + OTH(30) + RJD(4) + JDS(3) = 261
NDA(152) + LEFT(24)+ TMC(19) + AIADMK (9) + BJD (14) = 218
SP(22) + BSP(21) = 43
After the abstentions, the total strength comes down to 501 and the half-way mark comes down to 251