Coming out of the House, a disappointed BJP leader Venkaiah Naidu called the UPA’s FDI win in the Rajya Sabha a “moral victory of the Opposition”. On the other hand, an upbeat and beaming Parliamentary Affairs Minister Kamal Nath - quite the hero of the day - - countered it by saying, “With this, the government’s reform agenda is back on track.”
There were nail-biting moments though. Commerce Minister Anand Sharma had to stretch his reply for nearly one-and-half hours (without counting the adjournment in between) to allow the treasury benches to be filled up. Ironically, Defence Minister A K Antony and Congress MP Mani Shankar Aiyar - the two left-of-centre voices in the ruling side who were critical of the FDI policy - were the last to come in.
As the main speaker from the government end, Sharma tore into the Opposition, especially Leader of Opposition Arun Jaitley, after it was said that his FDI-in-retail policy did not have the support of the House even if the final vote went in the government’s favour.
“We challenge them,” he said, “If we are a minority government, let them bring a non-confidence motion.”
Well, his confidence came from the 15 votes pledged by BSP’s Mayawati and the convenient walkout staged by the nine-member group of Mulayam Singh’s Samjawadi Party.
But, it was Rekha - the still ravishing looking Bollywood star of yesteryear - who got assistance from fellow colleagues on how to vote and this included MPs from the Opposition parties.
But, the biggest surprise was the absence of three senior TDP members -- Gundu Sudharani, D Gaud and Y S Chawdhury. Sixteen other MPs, including former Congress Minister ailing Murli Deora, were also absent for the voting.