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SP, BSP Slam Govt On FDI Policy; Vague On Voting

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The much-talked about debate on FDI in retail in the Lok Sabha on 4 December saw SP and BSP joining the opposition in slamming the government over it but remaining ambivalent on voting on 5 December even as UPA ally DMK vowed not to rock the boat despite its opposition to the move.

SP Chief Mulayam Singh Yadav cautioned the Congress that the FDI decision would hurt its poll prospects and benefit the BJP, as he and BSP leader Dara Singh Chauhan counselled the government not to rush with its implementation.

Both parties, whose support is crucial for UPA, termed as "fraud" the government's contention that the FDI decision would lead to job creation and saw it as a "conspiracy" to finish off the 25 crore small traders in the country.

Yadav and Chauhan went to the extent of invoking Mahatma Gandhi in expressing opposition to FDI, with the SP chief telling Congress President Sonia Gandhi that she should give "weightage" at least to her surname and defer the move.

Chauhan said his party will disclose the way it will vote on 5 December. "We are seriously thinking about whether to stand with the communal forces or not," he said.

Yadav too was silent on the voting issue even as he told the government, "The role of the Opposition is to give suggestions and we are doing that. We are suggesting that you give up the FDI decision," he said.

DMK leader T K S Elangovan said his party was strongly against FDI but "we will still not vote against you.... we will not let you down. We will not join the Opposition, we will not join the BJP...We will watch you and correct you."

Slamming the government, Leader of the Opposition Sushma Swaraj demanded withdrawal of the FDI decision in national interest fearing it would render retailers jobless, impoverish farmers and hurt consumers.

On the government's behalf, Telecom Minister Kapil Sibal accused the opposition of trying to score political points by objecting to FDI in retail and asserted that the decision would benefit farmers, small scale industries, youth and consumers in the country.