New Delhi: The buoyant government yesterday announced a booster dose to the Indian economy saying more financial sector reforms were on the anvil.
“Our reforms are on track,” a jubilant Parliamentary Affairs Minister Kamal Nath said following the minority Manmohan Singh government’s victory in the Rajya Sabha Friday.
Rajya Sabha, the Upper Chamber of Indian Parliament, put its stamp of approval on the government’s contentious September decision to allow foreign direct investment (FDI) in multi-brand retail, paving the way for international chains like Wal-Mart, Carrefour and Tesco to enter the lucrative Indian retail market.
While the international chains are now free to deal directly with the various state government, ironically many state governments would have changed by the time the first such store is to be opened since it could take between 18 to 24 months for these chains to set shops in India.
They may even have to renegotiate with the new federal government since next general elections are due in early 2014.
All India Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK) leader V. Maitreyan, who moved the motion for the debate in the Rajya Sabha, said the final vote on the issue would be cast by the people in the next election.
“I give a solemn assurance that after the next Lok Sabha elections, the next government will reverse the decision of the (ruling) UPA (United Progressive Alliance),” Maitreyan said.
The UPA government managed to emerge victorious in a close fight by 14 votes. While it polled 123 votes, the opponents of FDI got 109 votes. The government’s victory became a reality only after the nine lawmakers of the Samajwadi Party (SP) walked out before the voting while 15 of their counterparts from the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) voted for the government. In addition, all nine out of 10 nominated members also voted for the government to rescue it from what could have been an embarrassing defeat.
While both SP and BSP lawmakers had walked out before voting in the Lok Sabha on Wednesday, BSP was made to do a course correction and vote for the government after UPA managers prevailed upon its leader Mayawati to come to their help.
While the opposition once again claimed moral victory despite the government’s twin victories, Commerce Minister Anand Sharma, who was the main speaker for government in both Houses on FDI, challenged the opposition to bring in a non-confidence motion if they had any doubts about the government’s strength.
“We challenge them… If we are a minority government, let them bring a no-confidence motion (against us),” Sharma said.
Senior Marxist leader D. Raja was quick to castigate the government saying it had brazenly identified itself being with the multinationals while claiming to be with the commoners.