Even as the West Bengal Assembly passed a resolution here on Thursday opposing the entry of large domestic and foreign capital in the retail sector, Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee said other States would follow suit in their respective Assemblies.
“After the resolution is passed here, other States will follow our example and all the Legislative Assemblies will pass a similar resolution… The matter would be then discussed in the Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha and the Centre will withdraw its decision of allowing foreign direct investment (FDI) in multi-brand retail,” she said.
Ms. Banerjee was participating in discussions in the Assembly on the resolution moved by Parliamentary Affairs Minister Partha Chatterjee.
The party moved a similar resolution in the House in December 2007 and it was consistent in opposing FDI in multi-brand retail, she noted.
“It was only our party that voted then in favour of the resolution and the entire Left Front opposed it. Only 23 votes were in favour of the resolution and 87 against it. Why did not you [Left Front] support it then” she asked.
The Trinamool could not “afford to allow foreign direct investment in multi-brand retail.” The decision would increase unemployment and affect the common man.
Members of the Left Front walked out during the discussions in protest against the Speaker’s decision not to allow amendments to the resolution moved by the Leader of the Opposition, Surya Kanta Mishra.
One of the amendments suggested that FDI in retail was being allowed under pressure from imperialistic forces.
Reacting to the walkout, Ms. Banerjee wondered whether its opposition to the resolution was only because of it wanting a reference to imperialistic forces or whether the Left parties had entered a secret understanding with WalMart.
“The matter [FDI in retail] is of utmost importance and the Trinamool Congress has brought the attention of the entire country to it,” she said.
Though he was not opposed to the resolution, Dr. Mishra later told journalists that it was incomplete and vague and there was need for certain amendments.
He questioned why the resolution was silent on “American imperialism,” which was behind the Centre’s decision to allow FDI in multi-brand retail.
“The State government is trying to overlook the main issue,” Dr. Mishra said.
Congress slams Mamata mimicry of Manmohan
Special Correspondent writes:
The State Congress leadership has taken strong exception to “the language and words” used by Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee and her mimicking of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh during an interview to a private television channel on Wednesday, and said that by doing so she had disregarded all tenets of political decorum.
“We don’t expect this from a Chief Minister,” State Congress president, Pradip Bhattacharya, said here on Thursday.
Mr. Bhattacharya took particular umbrage to Ms. Banerjee’s remark in an interview to Rajdeep Sardesai of CNN-IBN, that Dr. Singh was not connected to people at the grassroots level. What riled his party colleague and MP, Deepa Dasmunshi, was “the manner in which she [Ms. Banerjee] had mimicked a Prime Minister”.
“Personal rage shouldn’t be brought to the political platform,” Mr. Bhattacharya said, adding that Ms. Banerjee has “started shouting, as neither her expectation that the Centre would have to go for snap elections nor that it would have to resign after she withdrew support to the government has come true”.
“There is no chance of the government falling. That is why she is getting all excited,” he said.
“We don’t want the Trinamool Congress and the Chief Minister to drag politics in the State to such low level,” Mr. Bhattacharya said even as he described Ms. Banerjee as “impulsive, which is not right.”
Her reported remark at the interview that Pranab Mukherjee would not have been elected President had she not supported him also drew flak from the Congress leaders. “Who had asked her to support Mr. Mukherjee? We strongly oppose such a campaign of lies,” Mr. Bhattacharya said.