In an effort to break the impasse, Parliamentary Affairs Minister Kamal Nath, along with his deputy Rajiv Shukla, held a meeting with Leader of Opposition in Lok Sabha Sushma Swaraj and her Rajya Sabha counterpart Arun Jaitley.
"Presiding officers can take any decision they want in the interest of running Parliament," Nath said after the meeting.
Insisting that numbers were "not a worry" for the government, he said that the MPs are responsible enough to decide (in favour of the issue).
Replying to questions, he dismissed suggestions that the government has wasted four days of the Winter session to decide on the issue as it did not have the numbers.
"From day one I have said we have the numbers," he said to a question that the government was ready for a vote only after key ally DMK came on board.
Earlier, he also met the Lok Sabha Speaker and last evening the Rajya Sabha Chairperson.
The meeting with the Leaders of the Opposition saw BJP insisting on a discussion under a rule that entails voting alleging that the government had committed gross neglect of Parliament by not adhering to its commitment of consulting all stakeholders before taking a decision on FDI in multi-brand retail.
In such a situation, the only way the sense of the House could be gauged was through voting, Swaraj told reporters after the hour-long meeting.
Her contention was that even if such vote went against, it would not lead to the fall of the government but would only show the view of Parliament on the FDI issue.
"The government will not fall. Only FDI (decision) will have to go. If majority of members are against the decision then the government should abide by it," Swaraj said.
As against this, Nath argued that the all-party meeting held on Monday showed that larger numbers favoured a discussion without voting. The meeting also saw most of the parties wanting Parliament to run and "we want Parliament to run".
Nath said the government "cannot accept (discussion under Rule) 184. We have left it to the presiding officers to decide. Let them take any decision they want in the interest of running the House".
Asked if the government was ready for voting on FDI as the opposition is firm on its stand, Nath said, "We are not averse to it."
To a query whether the government was setting a bad precedent by having a voting on an executive decision, the minister said, "There are many precedents. A House behaving like this was also not there. Rules are very clear. We are not worried. The government is confident of the steps... of our policies."
Besides BJP, the Left parties, BJD, AIADMK, TDP have been demanding that the discussion on FDI should be followed by voting.
While in Lok Sabha, the government appears to be comfortably placed in the numbers game with promise of support from SP and BSP and DMK's open backing. Trinamool Congress with 19 MPs has also been cold towards Opposition demands for a vote on the issue.
In the Lower House, at present the UPA enjoys the support of about 265 MPs in Lok Sabha of 545. With the support of Samajwadi Party (22) and BSP (21), the backing for the ruling coalition goes a little over 300, which is comfortable over the required 273.
However in Rajya Sabha, where the UPA coalition does not have the numbers on its own, it may have problems in case of a vote.
In a House with an effective strength of 244, the UPA and its allies have a strength of about 94 members. There are ten nominated members who may vote with the government. Among the seven Independents, three or four may go with the government.
Still the ruling coalition may have to persuade outside supporters BSP (15) and SP (9) to positively vote with the government to avoid any last-minutes hitches.
Trinamool stand on FDI only after Speaker takes decision
Former UPA ally Trinamool Congress today said it would take a stand only after Lok Sabha Speaker Meira Kumar took a decision, but ruled out voting in favour of the government.
"We shall take a stand only after the Speaker takes a decision and communicates it. Our party will then take a stand. The Trinamool has to oppose FDI. We cannot vote in favour of the government under any circumstances," senior TMC leader and former Union Minister Saugata Roy, who is now in Delhi, said.
Without elaborating further, Roy, TMC Lok Sabha member, said the Parliament logjam should end and that the House should transact its business.
He criticised the Congress-led coalition and said his party withdrew support to the government in the wake of hike in diesel prices, cap on LPG cylinders and the decision to allow 51 per cent FDI in multi-brand retail.
"We wanted to table a no-confidence motion against the government. We are unhappy that it did not get support (from BJP, Left and other parties)," he said.
Cong should explain why it wasted Parliament's time: Naidu
Taking a dig at the UPA government's announcement that it was not averse to discussion on FDI under any rule, BJP leader M Venkaiah Naidu today asked the Congress to explain why it wasted four precious days of Parliament on the issue.
"Why the government, particularly Congress party, wasted four precious days of Parliament?" Naidu asked.
"Indifference, incompetence, incoherence and indecision of the Congress-led UPA government is costing the country dearly," he told reporters here.
Alleging that the Congress had failed to take its allies into confidence, Naidu said the party did not follow the "coalition dharma".
The moment the decision on FDI was announced, TMC left the alliance and other allies and supporting parties like DMK, SP and BSP said they were not consulted on the issue, he said.
Now, some parties, which opposed the FDI openly and went on record in Parliament besides supporting Bharat Bandh called by BJP, were arguing that they were backing the UPA government to keep the BJP at bay, he quipped.
Ridiculing the arguments of some parties backing the UPA government on the issue of FDI to prevent "communal" forces from coming to power, Naidu alleged "they (some allies) are not bothered about people's welfare but are only interested in their politics."
"It has become a habit with some parties to raise the bogus bogie of communalism as and when they have to back an opportunistic decision and make a U-turn to support the corrupt and anti-people government," the BJP leader alleged.
Asserting that his party stood firm on the decision to have a discussion and voting in Parliament on FDI issue, Naidu said the people of the country would then know the double standards of certain parties.
To a query on the announcement of cash transfer scheme, Naidu said, "We will study the scheme for its pros and cons in detail before taking a final decision."
A two-member committee constituted by party leader L K Advani would look into details of the scheme, he said.
Naidu, however, said there were villages with no bank branches at all. "Let the government first ensure opening of (banks) branches before its implementation," he stressed.