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Maya vote and vocals for govt

New Delhi, Dec. 6: Mayawati today punctured any dreams the BJP-led Opposition might have had of defeating the government in tomorrow’s Rajya Sabha vote on FDI in multi-brand retail.

She said her party would vote with the Centre, which ensures the UPA will have a majority in the upper House.

The 15 votes of the BSP will lift the government’s strength to 122, which is 10 more than the Opposition’s 112. The nine Samajwadi members will not vote, party leader Ram Gopal Yadav told reporters.

Mayawati said her decision was aimed at putting an end to the “FDI-versus-CBI” debate. The allusion was to a comment by the leader of the Lok Sabha Opposition, Sushma Swaraj, suggesting the BSP had bailed out the government in the lower House yesterday for fear of the CBI.

Mayawati accused the BJP of having misused the investigating agency and said it had become a “fashion” to accuse her party of voting in Parliament under CBI pressure.

Her speech lifted the Congress MPs’ morale after the BJP’s Arun Jaitley had argued strongly against FDI. The BSP chief spoke immediately after Jaitley, and launched a stinging attack on Sushma and her party.

Mayawati slammed the BJP for “singling out” her party to accuse it of being manipulated by the Centre. She said the BSP would ideally have boycotted the vote but this would have led to a government defeat, allowing the Opposition to “politicise” its victory and stall the House.

“We have decided to vote in favour of the government tomorrow,” Mayawati said, adding that the FDI policy “has a plus point as it is not binding on states”.

The Samajwadi Party’s Naresh Agarwal brought more cheer to the treasury benches when he requested the Prime Minister, who sat through much of the debate, to “rethink” the FDI policy but added that his party didn’t want to embarrass the Centre.

The Congress’s Prabha Thakur burst into tears when the BJP’s Venkaiah Naidu made a disparaging remark. The Chair expunged the word and Congress MPs forced Naidu to apologise.

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