FDI issue: DMK galvanises UPA

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The DMK’s announcement that it would support the UPA-2 government in the event of a vote on FDI in multi-brand retail, though 'in bitterness', strengthened the government’s hand on Tuesday.

Prime Min­ist­er­ ­M­anmohan Singh exp­re­s­sed confidence that the numbers in Parliament are in favour of the UPA and the government indicated that it was not averse to a discussion on FDI in multi-brand retail under any rule, a move that could end the deadlock in Parliame­nt.

Claiming that the government is not concerned abo­ut a vote, parliamentary af­f­ai­rs minister Kamal Nath said the Speaker should de­cide under which rule the Ho­use should discuss the matter.

The DMK’s green signal to UPA managers indicati­ng the party would vote in favour of FDI may have he­l­ped considerably in resh­a­ping the strategy.

“We are confident of the numbers,” the Prime Mini­s­ter told reporters after an hour-long meeting of the UPA coordination committee, which was attended by leaders of all the constitue­nts of the ruling alliance.

The leaders presented a united picture at the meeti­ng as news came from Ch­e­nnai of the DMK extending its support to the governm­ent in case of a vote on the FDI issue.

Speaking after the UPA co­ordination committee me­eting, Mr Kamal Nath said, “The UPA is fully un­i­ted on any decision of the Speaker and the governm­e­nt... All constituents are fi­r­mly behind the governm­ent.”

Asked if the government was ready for a vote, the pa­rliamentary affairs mini­ster said the government was “not averse” to discuss­i­on under any rule. “I said it yesterday. I am repeating it today,” he said, adding that larger numbers (parti­es at the UPA meeting) were­ in fa­vour of discuss­i­on being decided by the Speaker.

Mr Nath said the issue was discussed at the UPA me­eting and he would meet the Speaker to convey the sense of Monday’s all-party meeting, and also of the UPA leaders.

However, sources said, the government has conv­e­yed to Lok Sabha that it does not fa­vour voting on FDI in retail, arguing that it would set the wrong pre­c­edent — that of vo­ting on an execut­i­ve de­cision of the government.

The BJP and Left parti­es co­n­t­i­n­ued to insist that the discu­s­sion on FDI shou­ld take pla­ce under rules that entail voting.

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