PM had revealed mind on FDI to Mamata weeks before decision



New Delhi: Weeks before the "big bang" decisions on economic reforms, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had made clear to Mamata Banerjee about the intention to allow FDI in retail and called her to inform just before the Friday's cabinet meeting but she did not receive the call.

The Prime Minister had even yesterday wanted to talk to Banerjee and a call was made to her by his office which has not been returned yet, sources said.

Separately, through back-channels, some Congress leaders have left messages for Banerjee to talk to Singh which also have not been entertained, the sources said.

Rejecting Banerjee's contention that she was kept in the dark over the decisions on FDI, sources said the Prime Minister had revealed his mind at the UPA Coordination Committee meeting on August 22 which was attended by the Trinamool Congress leader and West Bengal Chief Minister.

At the start of the meeting, Singh had listed 17 issues, including FDI in retail and aviation, saying decisions in this regard needed to be taken along with hike in diesel price as the economy was in a bad shape, the sources said.

Banerjee stated that she did not want to talk about these issues at that meeting and would discuss with the Prime Minister privately, the sources said.

Subsequently, Finance Minister P Chidambaram had explained that the government needed to go ahead with reforms and cut fiscal deficit to restore confidence of investors, they said.

But she insisted she would talk to the Prime Minister separately about it.

Later, just before the meeting of cabinet last Friday when the FDI decisions were taken, Singh had called her to inform about the impending decisions as Trinamool representative and Railway Minister Mukul Roy was not going to attend, the sources said.

However, she did not receive the Prime Minister's call.

PTI