New Delhi: The Lok Sabha functioned for the first time this winter session on Thursday after the Speaker took the decision to allow discussion on FDI in retail under rule 184 that entails voting. Leader of the Opposition Sushma Swaraj said the opposition will let the House function since the government had agreed to a debate and vote on FDI in retail under rule 184. The date and time of the discussion is yet to be decided.
But the deadlock persists in Rajya Sabha as the government is yet to concede the demand in the upper house. The BJP has said that it wants a vote on FDI in the Rajya Sabha too. "We will continue to press for voting in the Rajya Sabha. Both Houses have a similar status," BJP leader Ravi Shankar Prasad said.
The issue for vote in the Lok Sabha was resolved at a meeting between Parliamentary Affairs Minister Kamal Nath, Leader of the House Sushil Kumar Shinde and Leader of the Opposition Sushma Swaraj with Speaker Meira Kumar earlier on Thursday morning.
While the UPA has claimed it is sure of the numbers in both houses, sources said that the Congress will make some attempts on Thursday to ensure all goes well - especially in the Rajya Sabha.
Parliamentary Affairs Minister Kamal Nath will be meeting SP, BSP and Left leaders again. Sources said that both Mulayam Singh Yadav and Mayawati are likely to tell their leaders to abstain from a vote.
Nath met Sushma Swaraj and her Rajya Sabha counterpart Arun Jaitley on Wednesday, where the leaders decided that Parliament should function and the discussion on FDI would be put to vote. After the meeting, Swaraj said that the Opposition wants Parliament to function and has told the government that a defeat on FDI will not lead to its downfall, so it must agree to the Opposition's demand.
Nath also said that the government wanted Parliament to function and the deadlock on FDI has been resolved. "Both Houses of Parliament must function. Voting on FDI is not needed, but we have left the final decision on the presiding officers of the two Houses," he said.
Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs and Congress leader Rajiv Shukla was also present at the meeting. The UPA's change of heart came after it received a boost from its allies, especially DMK, which assured it of having the numbers to survive the vote.
The numbers in the Lok Sabha
Total Strength of the Lok Sabha is 544 and the half way mark is 272
Congress(206) + DMK(18) + NCP(9) + Others (21)
Outside support for UPA: 50
SP(22) + BSP(21) + RJD(4) + JDS(3)
NDA (152) + Left Front(24) + TMC(19) + Others(45)
UPA(254) + RJD(4) + JDS(3) = 261
NDA(152) + LEFT(24) = 176
SP(22) + BSP(21) + TMC(19) = 62
Because of the abstentions, the total strength reduces to 482 and the half way mark comes down to 241.