FDI: After allies, govt wants Cong MPs onboard

Commerce & Industry Minister Anand Sharma will on Friday brief the Congress MPs on reasons behind the retail FDI decision and the benefits it will accrue.

Zeenews Bureau

New Delhi: After discussing its controversial move to allow foreign equity in the retail sector with major UPA allies, Congress now wants its own MPs, who have been voicing their dissent over the move, to fall in line and support the government’s decision.

Reports, Friday, claimed that Congress leadership has entrusted the task of taking its party MPs onboard to Union Commerce & Industry Minister Anand Sharma who will explain to them the government’s stand on the issue and benefits it will accrue.

Union Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee briefly spoke about the FDI decision to Congress Parliamentary Party (CPP) yesterday and told the MPs that Sharma would give a detailed briefing to them.

The briefing by Sharma, whose ministry proposal was approved the Cabinet last week, was expected yesterday, but did not take place.

The briefing by these ministers to the party MPs assumes significance as voices of opposition to the decision have grown louder. At least three Congress MPs - Ramesh Chenithala, Sanjay Singh and Praveen Aron - have spoken against it publicly, while a number of others are also believed to be unhappy.

On the Opposition stalling Parliament on the issue, Sharma hit out at them, terming it as "obstructionist opportunist".

He asserted that the Opposition could not dictate the government on executive policy decisions as also the language of the adjournment motion, under which discussion is demanded in Parliament.

Sharma said, "This is obstructionist opportunist opposition and what can you expect? They (Opposition) have not agreed to the language of the adjournment motion. They cannot dictate government on the executive policy decision...roll back...who are you?"

He said the government was ready to discuss the issue under the format `situation arising out of the Cabinet decision on this (FDI in retail)` and the Opposition parties can air their apprehensions.
Apparently referring to BJP, he said the objection to the decision was because opposition parties wanted to cater to their "original constituency" of traders.

Today’s briefing also assumes significance as Prime Minister yesterday held talks with top leaders of UPA alliance partners and told them the move will largely benefit the economy, boost agri-sector and generate employment opportunities.

However, the Prime Minister also warned that his government risked losing people’s trust if the FDI decision is rolled back.

However, his meeting with the UPA alliance partners ended inconclusively with no consensus emerging on the vexed issue.

The meeting, which was held at the Prime Minister’s 7, RCR residence, was attended by Farooq Abdullah of National Conference (NC), Sudeep Bandhopadhya (Trinamool Congress), TR Balu (DMK), E Ahmed (IUML) and Anand Sharma (Congress).

During the meeting, Mamata Banerjee’s Trinamool Congress and the DMK showed no signs of relenting and continued to exert pressure on the Congress government to withdraw the decision.

Sources said that the Trinamool Congress is to abstain from voting if a motion on FDI in retail comes in Parliament, while the DMK kept its cards close to its chest.

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