With Government being cornered over various issues, Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee on Wednesday briefed party MPs about the rationale behind allowing FDI in retail as also steps being taken to address inflation and black money so that they could counter to opposition attack.
Mr. Mukherjee, who was deputed to apprise the party MPs about the government’s actions and positions on the controversial issues, briefed them for about one hour amidst increasing attack by the Opposition.
He told the Congress Parliamentary Party that the move to allow 51 percent FDI in multi-brand retail and 100 percent in single brand will help check inflation by bridging the gap between farm-gate and consumer prices, sources said.
Mr. Mukherjee insisted that the move will help bring down prices and will be beneficial for both the consumer and the producer.
Commerce Minister Anand Sharma will give a detailed briefing on FDI to the party MPs on Thursday.
The briefing on FDI assumes significance as voices of opposition to the government decision have emanated from within Congress too, with at least two party MPs airing their views publicly.
Another party MP Praveen Singh Aron shot off a letter to Commerce Minister Anand Sharma asking the government to adopt a cautious approach on the controversial matter and asking for safeguards for domestic producers.
Parliament was on Wednesday adjourned for the fourth consecutive day on the FDI issue with the Opposition insisting on rollback of the Cabinet decision or discussion under Adjournment Motion.
Mr. Mukherjee also told the CPP about steps taken by government on black money and explained why it was not possible to make public the names of secret foreign bank account-holders, information regarding who has been shared with India.
The Finance Minister argued that making the names public at this stage now will obstruct the inflow of further information regarding it, sources said.
Law Minister Salman Khurshid, who attended the CPP meeting, downplayed opposition to FDI within Congress, saying there was nothing wrong if Congress members want to contribute to the overall debate on FDI issue.
He recalled the political upheaval that took place at the time of Indo-US nuclear deal.
Reminding the MPs about the assertion of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh with regard to the nuclear bill, he said, “If he is asserting again, I think we should welcome it.”
At the same time, Mr. Khurshid maintained that the Prime Minister was always open for dialogue and accommodation.
He said the Prime Minister is “not a man, who is prone to confrontation and I think we should take it in that spirit.”