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Govt claims SP, BSP support

New Delhi, Dec. 3: A day before the Lok Sabha debates FDI in multi-brand retail, Congress managers were agonising over the prospects in the Rajya Sabha, as if victory in the lower House which decides the fate of the government was a foregone conclusion.

“It indeed is”, a top manager of the government revealed, claiming that neither the Samajwadi Party (SP) nor the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) would vote against the government despite their unwavering opposition to the decision to open up the retail sector.

The logic that helped the government win over both the SP and the BSP rests on the clause that empowers states to reject the policy.

Parliamentary affairs minister Kamal Nath exuded confidence and aggression, appealing to all members to defeat the “politics” behind the move to have a vote on an executive decision.

The government has in anyway asserted that the FDI policy was “cast in stone” and would not be reversed even if it lost the vote in either Lok Sabha or Rajya Sabha.

Though there are worries in the Rajya Sabha — the UPA is in minority and it would be impossible to defeat the Opposition without active help from SP and BSP as abstentions won’t help — the government was concentrating on winning the debate, which can only happen if it was in no doubt about the numbers.

Congress MPs were called to a special session to prepare for tomorrow’s debate, organised as usual by the Rajiv Gandhi Foundation, where commerce minister Anand Sharma and telecom minister Kapil Sibal made a detailed presentation on the retail sector and the global experience with the FDI.

The government’s confidence got a boost today after BSP chief Mayawati laid greater emphasis on restricting communal forces than dwelling on the perils of FDI in retail.

Mayawati said the government’s decision to allow FDI in retail without assessing the pros and cons could seriously harm small traders, farmers and the economy but did not clarify which way her MPs would vote in Parliament, claiming that the final decision would be taken in the House.

Trinamul, with 19 MPs in Lok Sabha, indicated the likely option of voting against the government but refrained from committing anything, pointing out that Mamata would take a final call on Wednesday.