Trinamool Congress chief and West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Saturday said the Centre had decided to “suspend the FDI in retail issue till consensus is evolved.”
Making this announcement at the Secretariat here after a telephonic talk with Union Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee, Ms. Banerjee said: “The issue is settled. The Cabinet decision that was taken is being suspended till a consensus is reached. If that is the case, then we feel that the issue is settled.”
She said Mr. Mukherjee had called her up to seek a solution on the issue of allowing foreign direct investment in retail.
When contacted by journalists at his residence here, Mr. Mukherjee admitted that he had discussed the issue with Ms. Banerjee twice. He was, however, unwilling to comment on the development saying Parliament was in session and he could not announce anything at the moment. Any government decision would be announced only in Parliament.
Pointing out that the Centre's decision was a big step, she had asked journalists to cross-check the statement with Mr. Mukherjee. A visibly relaxed Trinamool leader congratulated “all the parties who fought on this issue.” The Trinamool had taken a stand against the move to permit FDI in retail.
Recalling her conversation with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Ms. Banerjee said he had asked her to reconsider her decision. But she told Dr. Singh that her party could not support the Cabinet decision on the FDI issue as it had to take a stand for the public. But the Trinamool did not want the government to fall either.
On Saturday, Ms. Banerjee said although initially there was talk of suspending the issue, she raised questions saying there “should be no ifs and buts.”
At the same press meet, Ms. Banerjee lashed out at a section of the media for spreading untruths that she had tried to extract a package for West Bengal in lieu of her support on the FDI issue. “This is unfair and unethical. I will look at filing a defamation suit.”
The Union Cabinet decision allowing 51 per cent FDI in multibrand retail evoked sharp reactions from the political parties even as the corporate sector had started running its blueprints to make the most of the measure aimed at opening up the economy. Economists said the reform meant opportunities to farmers but threats to the small trade