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Left hints at FDI reprieve

New Delhi, Nov. 16: The four Left parties today iterated the need for a debate and vote in Parliament on FDI in multi-brand retail, but suggested they might not press beyond a point if the government refused a vote, stressing that Parliament needs to function.

“A decision of this nature is the right of the executive. But any major decision affecting a vast number of people must reflect the opinion of Parliament. If not, then it is violative of parliamentary democracy,” CPM’s Sitaram Yechury said at a joint news conference addressed by parliamentary party leaders of the four Left parties.

Permission to allow FDI in multi-brand retail was granted by an executive order of the government and does not require Parliament’s approval.

“The government should rise above technicalities and go by the sense of the House,” Yechury said, urging the government to roll back the decision if the majority in Parliament opposes it.

At the same time, however, the CPM leader stressed the need for Parliament to function and to not get stalled like before. “We do not want a repeat of the situation in the last session. We do not want a situation where there is a match-fixing between the Congress and the BJP,” Yechury said.

The government has said it is ready to debate any issue in Parliament, including FDI in retail, but was not in favour of a vote.

The editorial in the CPM’s mouthpiece, People’s Democracy, said: “It would be most unfortunate if this winter session also ends up as a disrupted one. If this were to happen, then it is bound to increase further the growing cynicism amongst people over the efficacy of our parliamentary democracy….”

It further said: “The CPI(M) MPs, along with the other Left parties and secular Opposition allies, will try to ensure that the session functions and the government is forced to reverse these reform policies.”

The Left leaders also expressed their reluctance to destabilise the UPA government.

“None of us are in favour of forcing an early election. Their mandate is for five years,” Yechury said.

The Left parties’ stand, similar to that taken by the BJP’s key ally Janata Dal (United), should come as a relief for the government.

This leaves the BJP virtually marginalised if it seeks to corner the government and force a vote.