The Samajwadi Party (SP) and the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) have become the lone parties in the country, who by walking out of the Lok Sabha, played a vital role in sanctioning Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) in retail in India. Apart from the SP and the BSP, all other parties were seen either in favour or against this important Bill, but none of the parties took the path of a ‘walkout’. At one point of time, it seemed from the words of Mulayam Singh Yadav that the Samajwadi Party was going to take a surprising decision — different from that of the reports in the media, but this conjecture proved to be incorrect in the end. Mulayam Singh Yadav did, however, oppose FDI strongly and said that if Mahatma Gandhi, Jayaprakash Narayan and Ram Manohar Lohia would have been alive today, then nobody would have even thought of bringing FDI in the country. And yet, Mulayam Singh Yadav, who claims to be an ardent disciple of Ram Manohar Lohia, neither thought of keeping the honour of his teacher nor of Mahatma Gandhi and Jayaprakash Narayan. As a result, the indirect help of the Samajwadi Party opened the doors for FDI in the country. The BSP also adopted a double faced stance, and helped the Government by dumping the ideals of Bhim Rao Ambedkar. The BSP is apparently not worried that the number of votes from farmers is the most in their list of voters, and these are the people who are going to be directly affected by FDI. On the issue of FDI, Mayawati tagged the proposal of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) with religion and communalism. The same Mayawati, who only a few days earlier had sought the support of the BJP on reservation in promotion, suddenly found the BJP to be communal on the issue of FDI.
On the other hand, to lure Mayawati, the Central Government announced the project of making a memorial of Bhim Rao Ambedkar on the land of the Textile Ministry in Mumbai. This was a much anticipated demand of the BSP, for which they had even created a furore in the Rajya Sabha a number of times. It appeared from the type of language which Mayawati was using on the issue of FDI, that she was very influenced with the appeasement politics of Mulayam Singh Yadav. Today, everybody is saying the same thing : that SP and BSP imposed FDI on the country; without them, the Congress and its allies could not have pushed it through. And everybody is analysing FDI from the viewpoint of their own interests.
The leaders of both the SP and the BSP did oppose FDI, but somewhere, the party leaders were continuously worried on this issue for themselves instead of worrying for the country and the state. The political constraints of these leaders have handcuffed their own hands. Some people are calling it a fight between the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) and FDI and this view also cannot be ignored. Could anything be more treacherous than this : what is said in Parliament is one thing, but the path chosen for action is just the opposite? The behaviour of the SP and the BSP gave an almost unmistakable feeling that they were in favour of FDI in the retail sector and were only making false statements against the issue of FDI. Mulayam Singh Yadav was seen making Sonia Gandhi ‘aware’ in the Lok Sabha by saying to her that the benefit of FDI will go to the BJP and not the Congress, but he himself did not refrain from giving support to Sonia Gandhi. Mulayam Singh Yadav also gave signs of keeping his election equations open in coming times with the Congress by stating that elections are round the corner. On its part, the BSP first made the Congress Government ‘aware’ that once the Britishers with the support of retail business of spices came here and ruled the country for 200 years. Giving permission to FDI in multi brand retail would be an insult to Mahatma Gandhi, but Mayawati too did not stick to her stand. The behaviour of the SP and BSP leaders made it very clear that they are wrestling in the name of opposition to the Congress.
One way or another, FDI has been ‘sanctioned’ in the country. The farmers are worried about this, but it is good news for the industrialists. The sensex gave its signal by a rise in its index, the shares of the retail companies rose by 7 per cent. But the actual examination will take place during the 2014 Lok Sabha elections, when the leaders of different parties will go to the Court of the Public.
Though both these parties saved the face of the Central Government, their leaders faced problems in facing the media on account of their behaviour. Mulayam Singh Yadav, who was saying in the Lok Sabha to Sonia Gandhi that there is no unity on the matter of FDI in your party either, but you are the President and the leader, so whoever will not obey your orders would be thrown out of the party. He said the same thing for himself as well : that it happens in his party too. But when it came to his behaviour on the FDI issue, he tried to save himself by stating that the decision of walk out was of his party’s members. However everyone knows that this decision was his, and there were many leaders in his party who were opposing FDI, but no one could raise their voice before him. Besides, the SP and the BSP had both participated in the Bharat Bandh against FDI. It is expected that in the coming days the ‘facilities’ that were provided to the SP and the BSP by the Congress to get their support on the issue of FDI, and the worries from which they have been relieved will become clear. However, Mayawati might get relief from the Centre, but the Court is not ready to give any relief to the BSP supremo on this issue. When discussions were going on in Parliament on the issue of FDI, the bench of two judges of the Lucknow bench of the Allahabad High Court, Umanath Singh and Satish Chandra gave a big shock to Mayawati by questioning the Uttar Pradesh and the Central Government on the Taj Corridor case in one of the Public Interest Litigations (PILs) filed by a local advocate.
When discussions were going on in both the Houses on the issue of FDI, the leaders of all the parties were thinking primarily about the profits and losses they would make as a result in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections. The most intense impact of this was seen among the leaders of the biggest State in the country, Uttar Pradesh — as if the main fight of 2014 would be fought there ! However, this cannot be ignored either, as prominent leaders like Sonia Gandhi, Rahul Gandhi, Mulayam Singh Yadav, Mayawati, Murli Manohar Joshi not only win from this State, but in some instances they are also seen playing the role of a King maker and helmsman. During the debate on FDI, the leaders focused to quite a large extent on the equations of the coming elections.
The public does not understand why, when any political party stages a walk out from Parliament on any issue, it is only the ruling party that gets the benefit. Even if it is a Constitutional matter, the public wants to see a lot of amendments in these type of laws. This has not happened for the first time, when, to save the Government, a political party has walked out of Parliament and benefitted the Government even when the political party walking out was against the issue. This situation has somewhat become like ‘Sanp Bhi Mar Jaye Aur Lathi Bhi Na Toote’ ( The snake should get killed, but you should not break your own stick in the process). If it is appropriate to show opposition by walking out of Parliament, then the necessity of voting should not even be thought about.
One way or another, FDI has been ‘sanctioned’ in the country. The farmers are worried about this, but it is good news for the industrialists. The sensex gave its signal by a rise in its index, the shares of the retail companies rose by 7 per cent. But the actual examination will take place during the 2014 Lok Sabha elections, when the leaders of different parties will go to the Court of the Public. The Bharatiya Janata Party has already floated this issue and the party would not want it issue to drop down till 2014. On the other hand, the SP and the BSP will have to explain the constraints that made them save the Government’s face at the cost of spoiling their own credibility.