PM calls emergency meet over FDI in retail
New Delhi: With the Opposition and allies together opposing FDI in retail sector and a demand for its rollback gaining momentum, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Monday evening called an emergency meeting at his house.
According to reports, Industry Minister Anand Sharma, Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee and AK Antony were amongst those who attended the meet at 7 Race Course.
In view of the 51 percent FDI in multi-brand retail being approved by the Cabinet, both Houses of the Parliament were adjourned today. There was uproar from all quarters making it virtually impossible to conduct any proceedings. The Opposition especially the BJP have made it clear that they will not allow Winter Session of Parliament to function until the issue is resolved.
The PM has also called for an all-party meeting on Tuesday to discuss the issue and break the logjam.
Along with the BJP and the Left, key UPA allies Trinamool Congress and the DMK have opposed the decision taken by the government. Meanwhile, Chief Ministers of Tamil Nadu, Bihar and Uttar Pradesh have also joined the bandwagon saying that they will not allow retail outlets like Wal-Mart to operate in their states.
With the Congress being accused of taking a unilateral decision and not consulting allies and Opposition on the contentious issue, the matter seems to be spiralling out of control. The main reason for opposing FDI in retail being outlined is that it would cost jobs in the manufacturing sector and the retail sector and render small traders and vendors out of business.
“We will not allow 51 per cent FDI in retail in West Bengal. It will affect the livelihood of about five crore people,” said West Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee.
“The government cannot take an abrupt decision on the issue. There is no national consensus on this policy decision. Why Parliament should not have a say as far as these matters are concerned,” Leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha, Arun Jaitley asked.
"Rollback FDI in retail and run the House," Leader of Opposition in Lok Sabha Sushma Swaraj said curtly to the government.
The Oppositions it seems is all set to embarrass on the issue and drive home the point that there is a policy paralysis in UPA II. Meanwhile, according to sources the government is sticking to its stand and is in no mood for a rollback.
Earlier today, Industry Minister Anand Sharma wrote to all major political parties explaining government’s stand on the issue.
With the Congress party already battling criticism on the issue of price rise, black money and various scams, the decision on Foreign Direct Investment in retail has only added its woes. Clearly Manmohan Singh and his team will have a lot of fire-fighting to do in the days ahead.