Oppn drives Govt into corner on retail FDI

Written by Agencies | New Delhi | Updated: Nov 29 2011, 00:42am hrs
The government today found itself in a tight corner on the issue of FDI in retail with allies Trinamool Congress and DMK joining the Opposition in demanding withdrawal of the decision paralysing Parliament.

This has forced the govt to call an all-party meeting tomorrow to break the logjam.

DMK, which joined the Trinamool Congress in opposing the decision, described as "dangerous" allowing FDI in retail trade alleging it will affect lakhs of small traders as well as the poor and middle class consumers.

The two allies with 18 MPs each constitute the largest groups after Congress, which heads the UPA coalition, and have demanded a roll back of the decision immediately.

With the Opposition displaying rare unity against the decision to allow 51 per cent foreign direct investment in multi-brand retail, Leader of the Lok Sabha and Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee will meet floor leaders of political parties in a bid to break the deadlock.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, who met Congress President Sonia Gandhi in the noon, held parleys with senior ministers Mukherjee, P Chidambaram, A K Antony and Commerce Minister Anand Sharma in the evening on the strategy the government will adopt tomorrow.

There was speculation whether government would at least put on hold the FDI decision in the interest of functioning of Parliament.

But Parliamentary Affairs Minister P K Bansal said the government is convinced that the FDI decision was in the larger national interest and would benefit every section of society.

Tomorrow's meeting has been convened as an effort to talk to the Opposition to ensure that Parliament, which has been paralysed for five days, functioned.

On his part Sharma sought to reach out to Opposition parties by writing a letter to them and appealed to them to rise above "petty partisanship" on the issue.

The entire Opposition, barring BJP ally Akali Dal, put the blame on the government for Parliament's disruption saying they were not not consulted on such a vital issue.The unity among the Opposition has also surprised the government.

Notices of adjournment motion on the issue were tabled by leaders of several parties in the Lok Sabha which are under the consideration of Speaker Meira Kumar.Similar notices were also tabled in the Rajya Sabha.

"Scrap the decision by the night.Parliament can function tomorrow," Leader of the Opposition Sushma Swaraj told a press conference.

JD(U) leader Sharad Yadav said the Congress took the FDI deliberately to sabotage Parliament at a time when it was scheduled to discuss crucial issues like price rise and black money.

Yadav, who is NDA convener and BJP spokesperson Shahnawaz Hussain, said the question of allowing Parliament to function does not not arise till government reverses the decision.

The Opposition has said that the decision would sound the death knell for millions of small traders and cause huge unemployment in the rural areas.

The FDI decision has also met with stiff resistance from Chief Ministers of non-Congress states like Uttar Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Bihar, Orissa and those ruled by BJP.

West Bengal Chief Minister and TC leader Mamata Banerjee has already said the decision would not not be implemented in the state.

DMK President Karunanidhi said the Centre's insistence that states should implement the decision was not not justified.

Kerala PCC President Ramesh Chennithala has written to the Prime Minister expressing his opposition to the decision and wanted that it should not not be implemented in the state.