The all-party meeting called by Lok Sabha Speaker Meira Kumar on Wednesday, ahead of Parliament’s Winter session, failed to break the impasse over the FDI-in-retail, with the Centre refusing to accede to the Opposition demand for discussions along with a vote on the issue, in both the Houses.
Meanwhile, with the BJP-led NDA and the Left bloc set to raise the issue in the Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha, uproarious scenes could be expected as Parliament reconvenes on Thursday.
Following the all-party meeting, Leader of Opposition in the Lok Sabha, Sushma Swaraj said that voting on FDI was a pre-condition for ensuring a smooth Parliament session.
“We urge the Speaker to accept our notice (on FDI in multi-brand retail) under Rule 184, which entails voting,” she said.
The Centre, however, was in no mood to give any such assurance. And Union Parliamentary Affairs Minister Kamal Nath said, “I don’t think there was any assurance (by the government in Parliament). We will go into the records to check what Pranab Mukherjee (had) said.” But the clearest hint on the possibility of the Winter session being marred by Opposition protests came from senior CPI leader Gurudas Dasgupta.”It appears Parliament may not function smoothly for a few days as the government does not appear to be ready for a debate and vote on the FDI issue,” he said.
Fellow comrade Basudeb Acharia of the CPM echoed Dasgupta’s view.
The Centre, however, expressed the hope that it could eventually manage to bring the Opposition round. And in a renewed bid to reach out to the Opposition, the PM invited top BJP leaders--Parliamentary Party chairman L K Advani, Sushma Swaraj and Leader of Opposition in the Rajya Sabha, Arun Jaitley for dinner on Thursday.
The PM had planned to host a dinner for the trio on November 17, but it was called off at Sushma’s request following Shiv Sena pramukh Bal Thackeray’s death.
Addressing the gathering, JD (U) chief Sharad Yadav said the Opposition unity was of paramount importance and it appeared that Parliament would function smoothly.