Wednesday, June 19, 2024

FDI: Govt mobilizing numbers; PM meets DMK, TC leaders


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NEW DELHI: With DMK and Trinamool Congress opposing FDI in retail, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Thursday reached out to the two UPA partners but gave no assurance of a rollback of the controversial decision that has led to logjam in Parliament.

During the meeting with leaders of the DMK and Trinamool Congress, Manmohan Singh made it clear that the government was determined to go ahead with the decision taken last week to allow 51 per cent FDI in multi-brand retail and 100 per cent FDI in single-brand retail despite the widespread uproar, sources said.

The meeting came against the backdrop of members of DMK and Trinamool Congress joining opposition in demanding rollback and a discussion in Parliament under an adjournment motion.

The demands had led to stalling of Parliament for the last five working days.

Sources said the Prime Minister gave no assurance on scrapping the decision even as DMK and Trinamool Congress leaders conveyed their objection to it.

DMK leader T R Baalu told Singh that his party was against the decision and will not support it, sources said.

Trinamool Congress leader Sudip Bandopadyay, who represented his party, said the allies appealed to the Prime Minister to accept their request for rollback of the FDI decision.

“Sometimes allies may extend suggestions to bigger parties. It is not a Congress government. It is a combined government of ally parties,” he said.

In the Lok Sabha too, Trinamool Congress was aggressive on the issue with some of its members, including Kakoli Ghosh Dastidar, storming the Well and raising slogans against FDI.

Union minister Farooq Abdullah, who is president of National Conference, was also present at the meeting. His party is with the government.

Government mobilizing numbers, may opt for Parliament vote

Faced with deepening political crisis over its decision to allow foreign equity in retailing, the government is now mobilizing the numbers before it accepts the opposition’s adjournment motion entailing a vote to end the parliament logjam that continued for the eighth day Thursday, informed sources said.

The sources said the government has stepped up its efforts and is doing some math to manage the floor if the adjournment motion followed by a vote is moved. If it happens, Parliament may get back to work from next week, they said.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Thursday met the Congress allies in the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) to discuss the issue of Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) in retail they are opposed to.

While many constituents of the ruling combine favour the FDI in retail, key partners Trinamool Congress and the DMK are still insisting on the rollback of the cabinet decision. The two parties at present have 18 MPs each in the Lok Sabha.

Another ruling partner, the Muslim League Kerala State Committee (MLKSC) that is opposed to the decision has two MPs.

Manmohan Singh met leaders of these parties at his official residence to try to iron out the differences. The meeting was attended by Farooq Abdullah of the National Conference, Sudeep Bandyopadhyay of the Trinamool Congress, T.R. Baalu of the DMK and E. Ahamed of the MLKSC, as also Commerce Minister Anand Sharma of the Congress.

The sources said the DMK has already assured the government that it would seek some amendments to the decision but would vote for the government. The Trinamool, however, is a more vocal opponent.

“Our stand remains the same. We want a discussion. But we don’t want the government to fall,” Trinamool Congress leader Sudip Bandopadhyaya told reporters after the meeting with Manmohan Singh. He refused to divulge more details.

But the sources said a compromise formula has been “almost worked out”. While the Mamata Banerjee-led party would continue to oppose the decision, it will abstain from a vote.

With this, the Trinamool would not be seen aligning with the Left and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). And at the same time, it would also not side with the government on this particular issue. (Agencies)


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