Tuesday, June 25, 2024
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PM convenes all party meet to discuss FDI

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NEW DELHI: Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has convened an all-party meeting on Tuesday to end the Parliament logjam over FDI in retail, as another key UPA ally DMK today lent fresh political muscle to swelling opposition to Government’s decision.

Posing problems to the UPA, DMK joined Trinamool Congress to demand that the Government immediately withdraw the decision of opening up the retail sector to 51 per cent FDI.

Upping the ante, NDA Convenor and JD(U) President Sharad Yadav and BJP spokesperson Shahnawaz Hussain said the question of allowing Parliament to function does not arise till government reverses the decision.

“Rollback FDI in retail and (you can) run the House,” BJP’s Sushma Swaraj and Leader of Opposition told the Government in remarks suggesting that a resolution of the Parliament stalemate could be difficult. Sushma said the PM has called an all-party meeting at 9.30 AM tomorrow.

Government on its part sought to reach out to MPs and Chief Ministers and appealed to them to rise above “petty” partisanship on the issue.

“I felt it is my duty to dispel some apprehensions expressed by certain political parties,” Commerce and Industry Minister Anand Sharma said in his letter to members of the two Houses of Parliament which was deadlocked on the FDI issue for the second day on Monday. Breaking his silence on the issue, DMK supremo and former Tamil Nadu CM M Karunanidhi called as “dangerous” the FDI decision and said it cannot be justified and demanded that Government withdraw the decision.

Stepping up the Trinamool offensive to the delight of the opposition which has closed ranks, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee said Foreign Direct Investment(FDI) in retail would not be implemented in the state.

“We will not allow 51 per cent FDI in retail in West Bengal. It will affect the livelihood of about five crore people,” she said in Howrah.

Odisha CM and BJD supremo Naveen Patnaik dubbed the Government’s decision as ‘highly regressive’ and ‘ill advised’ and wrote a letter to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh urging him to withdraw the measure. “In our considered view, this policy is ill advised and highly regressive. I would, therefore, earnestly request you to reconsider the matter and withdraw this policy immediately,” Patnaik said in Bhubaneswar.

The Left parties too demanded that the Government must first rescind the FDI decision before any discussion can be held in Parliament.

Trinamool Congress parliamentary party leader Sudeep Bandopadhay questioned the purpose of the all-party meeting and demanded the immediate withdrawal of the FDI decision.

“Now they (government) have called for an all-party meeting on FDI. But what is the point when you have already decided. We want the FDI decision to be immediately withdrawn,” he told reporters.

Elaborating on his opposition to FDI, Karunanidhi said in a statement,”it is dangerous to allow FDI in retail trade as it will affect lakhs of small traders as well as the poor and middle class consumers. It will also be a cause for economic decline for our country. The DMK has sounded a note of warning in this regard in the Parliament.”

The NDA charged that Commerce Minister Anand Sharma did not discuss the FDI issue with the opposition before going ahead with the plan.

“Anand Sharma has written to all that he has talked to the stakeholders before taking this decision. Who are these stakeholders. Government should have talked to the political parties,” Sharad Yadav told reporters.

“The entire opposition, other than Shiromani Akali Dal, is demanding that FDI policy should be withdrawn,” Yadav said.

Shiromani Akali Dal(SAD) leader and Punjab CM Parkash Singh Badal however said his party will have a meeting and take a final decision on their stand on the FDI issue.

The Left parties while demanding the rollback said “there is no point in having a debate on FDI in retail when a decision has already been taken. So, the government should resend the decision and then hold a discussion on it.

Maintaining that an executive decision on a “major policy matter” like FDI in the retail sector has never been taken in the past when Parliament was in session, CPI(M) leader Sitaram Yechury said, “They have not only bypassed Parliament, but it is a big provocation to make Parliament impotent.” (PTI)

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