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Updated: December 6, 2011 01:25 IST

FDI on hold, Pranab tells Opposition

Special Correspondent
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Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee addressing the media at Parliament house, in New Delhi. Photo: R.V. Moorthy
Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee addressing the media at Parliament house, in New Delhi. Photo: R.V. Moorthy

Union Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee on Monday confirmed to a section of the Opposition that the Union government had decided to put on hold the move to allow foreign equity in the multi-brand retail sector, pending further consultations.

The issue has stalled Parliament since November 25. However, it is not immediately clear whether this is enough to break the deadlock.

On Monday, Mr. Mukherjee called up BJP leaders L.K. Advani and Sushma Swaraj and CPI(M) Rajya Sabha leader Sitaram Yechury and sounded them out on the government's latest thinking. They reportedly suggested that he hold an all-party meeting to make a formal announcement.

The Opposition is yet to take a view; some of them feel that such an announcement should be good enough to let Parliament function.

Another view is that the Opposition should stick to its demand for rollback of the decision.

“If the government agrees to keep the decision in abeyance pending wider consultations, there is no reason for the Opposition to hold up Parliament. There are so many urgent and important subjects that need to be debated, and Parliament cannot be held to ransom over one issue,” a senior Opposition leader said.

According to informed sources, Mr. Mukherjee would chair a meeting of floor leaders on December 7 and seek their views.

At the last meeting he had with them, the floor leaders demanded that the government either roll back the decision or face an adjournment motion with voting in the Lok Sabha.

Manmohan's stand

Within hours of the meeting, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, speaking at a Youth Congress rally, made it clear that the decision was a considered one.

But, at the same time, the government was not in a position to face an adjournment motion, given the strong opposition of the Trinamool Congress and the DMK, key allies of the ruling United Progressive Alliance.

The government's efforts at persuading these allies proved futile; in particular, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee was in no mood to relent.

After talking to Mr. Mukherjee on Saturday, she made a surprise announcement that her party had secured a commitment from the government that it would not go ahead with the decision.

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It is indeed a whiff of air for crores of small retailers whose livelihood was sought to be endangered in view of the inflow of FDI in small trade.The voice of protests heard from the allies TMC, and DMK and the BJP, despite being a a strong votary of FDI,seen taking up cudgels against the move,probably eyeing on ensuing elections have left many to raise eye brows.The die hard steel of the Prime Minister to push the bill,had to descend to smell the coffee to cool its allies.The uncompromising struggle launched by mass organisations and the Left parties,had a richocheting effect.The Parliament could not transact for nine long days.The blamegame of Congress against opposition for the standoff has drawn flak. The UPA had been left grudgingly to salvage,through shelving the move though transciently. The ire of the MNCs and the Imperialism and the displeasure of the corporate houses have to wait.

from:  C.Chandrasekaran
Posted on: Dec 6, 2011 at 19:30 IST

Indian economy is falling.the GPD has reduced significantly.The only step taken by congress to speed up the gdp has also been put on hold.The liberalisation of Indian market reform of 1991 was also opposed.Similar statements were made but we all know the output.Dr. Manmohan singh is most efficent economist,let him make this economic reform.Parliament was held hostage just for rolling back the FDI in retails.

from:  Ashutosh Kumar
Posted on: Dec 6, 2011 at 14:13 IST

When i talked to some of the persons who has gone to abroad, they always appreciate the way the Wall Mart ( also other retail brands because wall mart is not the only one) functions and also passed on remarks sch as " India has nothing equivalent to that". The politicians who are oppossing to this, definitely sending their children to purchase sabji from malls and definitely not from 'thelawallas'. In my opinion organised retail sector will control the price to some extent by deleting the middlemen from the chain.

from:  suraj
Posted on: Dec 6, 2011 at 13:06 IST

It is hard to understand why government's proposal to 51% FDI for multi-brand is opposed when the advantages outweights the disadvantages in all concerns. This FDI could be one option to rocket the growing economy futher.

from:  TH CHINLIANLAL NGAIHTE
Posted on: Dec 6, 2011 at 12:49 IST

Of course FDI issue is a major concern today; but, still then it should not stand as a barrier for other issues. Because, Parliament session is scheduled for a stipulated period in which all other major issues are to be covered.

from:  sudhansu digal
Posted on: Dec 6, 2011 at 09:41 IST

' ... to put on hold ...pending FURTHER consulatations... ' would suggest as if there were some earlier consultations. If so, with whom and why the parliament was paralysed? Going by the stand taken by Trinamool Congress and the DMK, leave alone the opposition against FDI in multi brand retail, a seemingly powerful group within the congress has made an audacious attempt to bulldoze its way to thrust FDI in retail on the nation. As the move has backfired with more force to instil fear of the Government's survival , now this announcement. What a classic case of acting first and thinking next. Again, the Goverenment seems to be under the wrong impression that the parliament would be allowed to function smoothly. Black money, inflation, corrtion and the JanLokpal bill are hanging fires. The Congress party should learn to be more honest and sincere in its approach acts and pronouncements. Such flip flops and dirty tricks as witnessed now, would only make the party unfit to rule India.

from:  Shekar
Posted on: Dec 6, 2011 at 07:37 IST

Why didn't the govt take the views of it's allies and major opposition parties right in the beginning? Why must Congress be eternaly arrogant, even under a humble Manmohan Singh? Why does it assume it has the birth right to run the country and has no answerability to Parliament? After the UPA has come out as the most corrupt Indian govt ever, this arrogance defies commonsense. Clearly a conscientious Manmohan is either not assertive enough, or worse, in charge at all.

from:  Vikram Malkani
Posted on: Dec 6, 2011 at 07:07 IST

Communist China has Walmart etc but in India many of the political parties and some in the media are opposed to FDI. Indian politicians and so-called "Left" intellectuals could learn pragmatism from China. The decision to put on hold the move on FDI is a negative step.

from:  krishna
Posted on: Dec 6, 2011 at 03:33 IST

The congress has proved time and again that it is no more a party of the people but a party that exist for the corporate world. The top leaders like Manmohan Singh and Mukharjee have for long served the corporate not the people nor do I belief that they know India. The throbbing towns and cities are not India... I would have like them to walk into the myriads of villages of India and find what India is today... for those unfortunate myriads. Therefore they can never understand what can FDI in retail market would do to the ordinary people of India in the long run. The only way to stop them doing this is to through them out. Was it not a criminal act of injustice done to the people of India when the prices of petrol was increased to please the corporate? And was it not a criminal act of manipulation don by the Montek Singh Aluwalia when he submitted that Rs 32 earning Indian is not poor?!A time will come when the people of this country cant take any more of this.

from:  Viju Kallara Jose
Posted on: Dec 6, 2011 at 01:21 IST
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