Behind the scenes on the FDI vote: Fact or Fiction?
After the FDI-in-retail motion was passed successfully in both the Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha, there were news reports about Walmart having spent Rs. 125 crores in lobbying for this. Given that Walmart does have a track record of bribery cases against it around the world, it’s anybody’s guess that many among our political class, in all likelihood, made “mota maal” in this case. Picture this plausible scenario: Walmart bribes all the major political parties in proportion to their seats in Parliament. Since all our parties have top-down structures, where the high and mighty of each party (the high command) decide on how a party votes, “fixing” becomes relatively straightforward. Fix the high command and you are in business.
Now, the ruling party wants this motion to pass at any cost to boost investor confidence and show that they are serious about reform. The main opposition, BJP, despite having been a proponent of FDI-in-retail when it was in power at the Center, now thinks and argues exactly the opposite. So it does plenty of chest-thumping and goes all out to appease the voters with its rhetoric on why FDI is bad for farmers, traders, etc., to show that they are with them in heart, mind and spirit. But they know fully well that they don’t have the numbers to derail the passage of the motion. The smaller players like the Samajwadi party and the BSP have a permanent CBI gun to their heads. Threaten to pull the trigger, and they will stage a walk out, run, or even dance, when required by the Congress. Not surprisingly, both these parties staged a walkout in unison from the Lok Sabha.
In the Rajya Sabha, if the BJP, SP, and BSP joined hands with other smaller parties, the motion could have been defeated. However, given the Walmart lobbying funds, they were committed to its passage, but at the same time, they had to put up a show to appease their respective bases. The BSP unleashed some hideous reverse swing (when we need this badly on the cricket field we get it on the political field instead!), and voted in favor of the motion in the Rajya Sabha after staging a walk out in the Lok Sabha! The SP voted against the motion in the Rajya Sabha, knowing that even without the BJP votes, victory for the motion was guaranteed. In short, what the nation witnessed was possible political match-fixing sponsored by Walmart and orchestrated by all the major political parties.