NEW DELHI (TIP): FDI in multi-brand retail today got the approval of the Lok Sabha as the opposition motion seeking immediate withdrawal of the decision was rejected convincingly as BSP and SP walked out. 218 voted in favour of the opposition motion, while 253 voted against it in the House where 471 members participated in the voting. The total strength of the House is 545. The House also rejected the motion seeking amendment to the rules notified by the Reserve Bank under Foreign Exchange Management Act (Fema) to enable FDI in multi-brand retail.
While 254 voted in favour of the government, 224 were against. Members of SP and BSP, with respective strength of 22 and 21, did not participate in the voting as they walked out alleging that interests of farmers and small retailers had been ignored. The victory of the government after two days of heated debate was immediately hailed by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi. “FDI policy that we have put in place has the approval of this House (Lok Sabha),” said Singh, who is a member of Rajya Sabha but was present during the voting in the Lower House. This was after a gap of many years that an executive decision of the government was put to vote in Parliament. Earlier, replying to the discussion,commerce minister Anand Sharma dismissed the opposition charge that the move would hurt small traders and farmers and that the government has rushed the decision.
He said the decision was not taken overnight and deliberations were held with chief ministers and other stake holders like association of farmers, consumer organizations and representatives of the food processing industry. Leader of the opposition Sushma Swaraj, who had moved the motion, maintained that majority of the House was against FDI in retail which was reflected in speeches of leaders of different political parties. Swaraj said going by speeches in the debate on FDI, leaders of various parties which extended support in favour of the motion and against bringing FDI in multibrand retail had 282 votes and those against it had 224 votes. She said 22 leaders of 18 parties participated in the debate on FDI in multi-brand retail of which 14 spoke in its favour.