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UPA confident ahead of FDI debate in Lok Sabha

 NEW DELHI, Dec 4 (IANS): The UPA government has said it is confident of its numbers in the Lok Sabha, which begins a debate on foreign direct investment (FDI) in multi-brand retail at 2 p.m. Tuesday.

BJP leader Sushma Swaraj and Communist Party of India (Marxist) MP Khagen Das will move the motion, which reads: "This House recommends to the government to immediately withdraw its decision to allow 51 percent FDI in multi-brand retail trade."

The motion for the modification of Foreign Exchange Management Act (FEMA) notification, which was tabled in the Lok Sabha Nov 30, will also be taken up along with the one on FDI.

FEMA rules have to be approved by the Lok Sabha to facilitate FDI in retail.

Trinamool Congress leader Saugata Roy and National Conference leader Hassan Khan have moved counter motions against the government notification on FEMA rules.

The government has said it is confident of its numbers in the Lok Sabha in the vote which will take place Wednesday.

Parliamentary Affairs Minister Kamal Nath slammed the BJP's opposition to FDI in multi-brand retail, saying such tactics were not in the interest of the country.

"I have been consistently saying that the motion tabled by the BJP in both houses of parliament will be defeated. This is just politics in the name of FDI on the part of the BJP, and we urge all parties to reject it," Kamal Nath told reporters in the Parliament House complex.

"This is politics. We are managing," he said.

The BJP, meanwhile, said all parties should stick to their stand on FDI which they adopted outside parliament.

"We only hope the parties stand both inside and outside parliament. They have protested...they come on street against FDI in retail. It is not in the interest of the country," said BJP leader M. Venkaiah Naidu.

Both the Samajwadi Party (SP) with 22 MPs and Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) with 21 MPs in the lower house have yet not clarified their position on the FDI issue but government managers expressed hope the two parties would support FDI in retail, either in the form of a positive vote or an abstention to help the UPA scrape through.

BSP chief Mayawati had said her party would decide on the vote on the floor of the house but also said her party would not go with the "communal forces" (read BJP), hinting she would support the government on the issue.

Mayawati is pressing the government to pass an amendment bill for reservation in jobs for the Scheduled Castes (SC) and the Scheduled Tribes (STs) which has been listed in the Rajya Sabha.

The SP is dead opposed to the legislation.

Trinamool Congress with 19 MPs, who had quit the UPA over the FDI in retail issue in September, has said it will vote against it.

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