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Govt set for test, DMK on board

- We are confident of numbers, says PM
Karunanidhi

New Delhi/Chennai, Nov. 27: The Congress leadership today secured explicit support from its southern ally DMK on an FDI vote and sent out a message of unity in the ruling combine before working out a compromise with the Opposition for breaking the parliamentary deadlock.

“We are confident of numbers,” Prime Minister Manmohan Singh told reporters after a UPA meeting in New Delhi.

Although no decision has so far been taken on the mode of discussion in Parliament on the decision to allow FDI in multi-brand retail, the government appeared amenable to a voting provision as the risk of a defeat has now been sufficiently minimised.

With the categorical assurance of the DMK’s support and positive vibes from the SP and the BSP, parliamentary affairs minister Kamal Nath said the “Speaker can decide on the rules under which the discussion will happen”.

“The UPA is fully united on any decision of the Speaker and the government... all constituents are firmly behind the government,” Kamal Nath said.

Asked if the government was ready for a vote, he said the government was “not averse” to a discussion under any rule. “I said it yesterday. I am repeating it today,” he said.

Kamal Nath has been asked to negotiate with the BJP leadership afresh to ensure that the deadlock in Parliament ends by Monday, or even earlier. No work has taken place so far in the session and Parliament is closed tomorrow for Guru Nanak Jayanti.

There is no clarity on how far the government was willing to go: straightaway accept a debate under Rule 184 as demanded by the BJP and the Left or accept the adjournment motion moved by the Samajwadi Party that also entails voting.

At today’s UPA co-ordination committee meeting, attended for the first time by Rahul Gandhi, in addition to Manmohan Singh and Congress president Sonia Gandhi, most speakers stressed on the need for the coalition to stay united and focus on the constructive work done by the government in the past eight years instead of drifting apart owing to small glitches.

In Chennai, the DMK announced its decision to support with “bitterness” the UPA in Parliament if FDI is put to vote. “Our aim is to prevent communal forces from coming to power since there is every likelihood of the UPA government falling on the issue of FDI,” party leader M. Karunanidhi said in a statement.

“Though there may be thousands of differences (between the UPA and the DMK on the issue), considering the unfavourable incidents that may arise out of this government’s falling, it has been decided to support the UPA with bitterness,” the DMK chief said. “It is the compulsion of our times that the UPA government must continue so that public peace and economic development will occur.”

Taking note of the Centre’s assurance that it would not force any state government to implement the FDI decision, Karunanidhi said his party had been assured that the life of the farmers and small retailers would not be affected.

The DMK’s flip-flop came 48 hours after Karunanidhi had explained to Union minister Ghulam Nabi Azad that his party could ill afford to support the Centre on FDI as it would hurt its large constituents of farmers and small traders.

But a quiet quid pro quo arrangement worked out between the DMK and the Congress has changed the picture. The Congress has agreed to back and even enlist the support of other parties on the DMK’s resolution in the Lok Sabha on the 2G scandal in the light of allegations that the presumptive loss figure of Rs 1.76 lakh crore was part of a BJP-associated game plan.

According to DMK sources, the party is keen to push through a resolution that would seek to confront the allegations against A. Raja and Kanimozhi in the spectrum controversy.

“Since FDI will not be implemented in Tamil Nadu as the ruling AIADMK is opposed to it, our decision to support the Centre will not hurt the traders and farmers in the state. On the other hand, anything to neutralise the impact of the 2G scam will be a welcome development for our party,” said a DMK MP.