New Delhi: The war over FDI in retail reached Parliament giving a stormy start to the Winter Session on Thursday. The Lok Sabha was adjourned for the day, after being adjourned thrice in the day, following a ruckus over FDI. The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the Left Front are demanding a debate and vote on FDI.
BJP leader Sushma Swaraj said, "I want to bring to your notice that the parliament has been insulted. I want to remind that the then Finance minister, Pranab Mukherjee gave a statement in the parliament on Decemeber 7, 2011. He said that other parties and leaders will be kept in confidence before going in for FDI. I regret that the statement the former finance minister made, the government has approved 51 per cent of FDI. We should be given an opportunity to express our views under rule 184. Under rule 184 there should be a discussion on FDI in Parliament."
But there were signs of a divide in the Opposition. BJP ally JD(U) said it wants a debate, but didn't insist on a vote. The SP and BSP, who provide outside support to the UPA, were also not insisting on a vote. BJP leader Ravi Shankar Prasad said, "Sharad Yadav is an important part of NDA. I won't comment on what he has said. I would only reiterate what the NDA resolved, that we demand discussion under Rule 184."
Meanwhile, in a setback for the Trinamool Congress, Lok Sabha Speaker Meira Kumar rejected its notice for a no-confidence motion as it lacked the support of 50 MPs as required. The government has offered the opposition an all-party meeting to decide if a discussion on FDI in retail should lead to a vote or not.
The Rajya Sabha, on the other hand, remained paralysed over the issue of the SC/ST quota bill. BSP Chief Mayawati said, "We had sought SC/ST quota bill. In Lok Sabha, we will raise deteriorating law and order situation in UP. Centre should impose President's rule in UP."
Earlier before the start of the Winter Session, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh appealed to the Opposition to co-operate for the smooth functioning of Parliament. Manmohan Singh said that those in Opposition and government must work together. "Our parliament has a very legislative this winter session. I see cooperation from our colleagues from both houses. We are ready to discuss all issues on the floor of both houses," he said.
"We need to create new jobs, provide healthy environment for investment. Our country faces many economic problems arising from global economic problems. Our Parliament has a very heavy Legislative agenda during the Winter Session. I seek cooperation from my colleagues in the House. We need to create new jobs on a large enough scale to provide gainful employment to our youth," the Prime Minister said.
BSP chief Mayawati asked her 21 MPs not to side with the Opposition on the FDI in retail issue. Mayawati reportedly took the decision late on Wednesday night.
Meanwhile, Shiv Sena founder Bal Thackeray on Thursday became one of the few people to be paid obituary reference in Parliament despite never being a member of either the Lok Sabha or the Rajya Sabha. The Shiv Sena and the BJP had strongly pitched for an obituary reference to Thackeray in Parliament.