New Delhi: Caught in a fierce political storm over Centre’s proposal to allow foreign equity in the retail sector, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Thursday said that his government will lose people’s trust if the decision is rolled back.
“I want to assure you that the decision to allow FDI in the retail sector will largely benefit the economy and the agri-sector and create more jobs. However, at this juncture, if we withdraw the decision under pressure then we risk losing the trust and faith, which people have reposed in the Congress-led UPA government,” he said.
As per reports, Prime Minister said this while trying to convince leaders of major UPA allies that the FDI move will eventually benefit the economy and generate employment opportunities.
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 is still keeping its cards close to its chest.
Talking to reporters outside Parliament later, Trinamool Congress leader and Railway Minister Dinesh Trivedi told reporters his party continues to be against FDI.
"We want what is good for the country, we talk about `aam admi` (common man). It is just that what is good for India may not be good for other parts of the world, and what may be good for other parts may not be good for India," he said.
Meanwhile, Union Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee also held a separate meeting with veteran BJP leader LK Advani in a last-ditch effort to end the stalemate over the FDI decision.
Earlier, senior leaders of the main Opposition party also held a discussion with the Leader of opposition Sushma Swaraj over the FDI issue.
Prime Minister’s meeting with the UPA allies came a day after an all-party meeting called by the Congress government to find a way forward to the present deadlock ended inconclusively.
The Government-opposition war also escalated with BJP squarely rejecting the government`s plea for toning down its adjournment motion.
In another bid to end the deadlock in Parliament, Mukherjee met Advani yesterday evening, but failed to make any headway.
Meanwhile, Congress later declared that the government has the numbers in the Parliament to face any adjournment motion, indicating that the allies Trinamool Congress and DMK will be brought on board.
The turmoil over the Centre’s FDI decision forced the adjournment of both the Houses of Parliament for the seventh straight day without any business being transacted.
The entire opposition, showing a rare unity this time, is pressing for an immediate rollback of the controversial decision.
The Congress top brass met twice yesterday at the Prime Minister`s residence and discussed the strategy to face the Opposition onslaught in the Parliament.
The Congress core committee also met to chalk out the future strategy on the issue.
Though, the government has come under fire from all quarters, including from within, on the issue, it appears in no mood to rollback the decision of allowing 51% foreign direct investment in retail sector.
The government is trying to mollify its allies and bring them onboard as far as the decision on FDI is concerned, before it makes any concessions to the Opposition which has been stalling Parliament on the issue.
Meanwhile, Commerce Minister Anand Sharma is set to brief Congress MPs on the issue today.
UPA chief Sonia Gandhi is reportedly upset over the continuing deadlock over the retail FDI issue, which has been disrupting the proceedings inside Parliament.
A section of Congress leaders including KPCC chief Ramesh Chennithala and MP Sanjay Singh are firmly opposed to allowing FDI in the retail sector as they term it as anti-farmer move, anti-people move.
In a bid to end the deadlock, the government is reportedly mulling to suspend the decision for some time and reduce the extent to which foreign direct investment should be allowed in the retail sector to appease the opposition.