For all its bravado, the Congress party is worried about the outcome of a floor test on the issue of FDI in multi-brand retail. This concern arises out of the uncertainty of the voting behaviour of four parties — the SP (22), the BSP (21), the DMK (18) and the TMC (19) that together account for 80 MPs in the Lok Sabha.
All these parties have opposed FDI in multi-brand retail but have expressed an opinion that they want a debate in the Lok Sabha under a non-voting clause.
“So, the best case scenario that we can hope is that in the event of voting on FDI is that these parties shall abstain or walk-out at the time of voting,” said a senior Cogress MP.
In terms of the numbers game, their abstention or walk-out would reduce the effective strength from 543 to 467, and thus bring down the half way mark to 234. Now the Congress and its defitinve allies add up to barely 233, with Congress (206), NCP (9). RJD (4), IUML National Conference (3) and IUML (2) alongwith 9 independents.
In addition, there are dozen single member parties, but their voting behaviour, though usually pro-government is difficult to predict exactly. This brings in the much detested element of uncertainty for the floor managers.
Against this backdrop a meeting of the UPA allies on Tuesday has assumed crucial importance because on its outcome depends the voting strategy of the DMK. If the DMK comes on board, then the Congress floors managers would be encouraged to take on the BJP-led opposition’s challenge and even possibly agree for a debate under a voting clause.