India's government has indicated it is not averse to a parliament vote on allowing foreign direct investment in retail.

To date, the country's government has not agreed to a vote on the move on the basis that allowing FDI of up to 51% in multi-brand retail does not require parliament's approval. Opponents, however, have argued small domestic traders would be forced out of business.

Following a meeting of the leaders of the ruling United Progressive Alliance (UPA) coalition yesterday (27 November), Parliamentary Affairs Minister Kamal Nath said the government was "not averse to discussion" on the FDI issue under any rules.

"The UPA is fully united on any decision of the speaker and the government... all constituents are firmly behind the government," Nath said.

"Larger numbers (parties at the UPA meeting) were in favour of discussion to be decided by the speaker," he said, adding that it is for the presiding officers of the two houses of parliament to decide whether to permit a vote on the issue.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has said he is "confident of numbers".

The plans to ease rules on foreign investment in retail come into effect in September. Political opposition had stymied a previous attempt to relax the rules in December and the decision in September was also met with criticism. 

The Trinamool Congress Party, a member of India's ruling coaltition, threatened to resign from the government in protest over the move, and the party's chief minister, Mamata Banerjee also hit out at the reforms.

Earlier this month, the Indian government approved foreign-direct investment proposals from British footwear firm Pavers England and US apparel retailer Brooks Brothers Group.