With FDI in pocket government loses ruse for inaction
By The New Indian Express | Published: 07th December 2012 11:39 PM |
Despite overwhelming political opinion against foreign direct investment (FDI) in multi-brand retail, the United Progressive Alliance government has managed to defeat the motions against the move by the BJP and the Left in Parliament. The tone and tenor of the debate in both the Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha made it clear that the majority of parliamentarians had strong reservations about the government’s policy. Yet the Congress political managers were able to manage majority by ‘influencing’ Mayawati’s Bahujan Samaj Party and Mulayam Singh Yadav’s Samajwadi Party to ensure that their voting in both the houses was at variance with their avowed political conviction. Displaying classic examples of political opportunism, the SP abstained from voting in both the houses while the BSP voted for the government in Rajya Sabha.
The dubious victory may have ensured the survival of the government, but it can by no stretch of imagination be termed as an endorsement of its policies. If anything, the inner contradiction between the stated political beliefs of some parties and their behaviour in the House has underlined the fault lines in coalition politics during the run up to next parliamentary elections due in 2014.
In their celebratory exuberance, the leaders of the Congress that leads the UPA will do well to remember that this ‘technical’ victory has robbed them of any further excuse for inaction on many pending issues. They must now goad the government for action on other issues bedevilling the economy. There is now no excuse for delaying action on infrastructure and paralysed power projects. Investments worth a whopping Rs 10 lakh-crore have been stalled in the past many years due to a complete policy inertia and lack of regulatory, primarily forest, approvals. Yet the government has been unable to clear the proposal for setting up a National Investment Board to clear these mega projects because of turf wars between ministries headed by the Congress leaders themselves.