Comes after Trinamool quit UPA opposing its reforms, including FDI in retail
U.S. Ambassador to India Nancy Powell met West Bengal Chief Minister and Trinamool Congress chairperson Mamata Banerjee at the State Secretariat here on Monday.
Though neither Ms. Banerjee nor Ms. Powell was forthcoming about the issues discussed by them, the meeting was considered significant, especially as it came hot on the heels of the Trinamool Congress withdrawing support to the United Progressive Alliance government at the Centre following its opposition to reforms, including the entry of foreign direct investment (FDI) in multi-brand retail.
During her visit to West Bengal in May this year, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton had said prior to a meeting with Ms. Banerjee that she would raise the matter of her country’s “desire to open [Indian] markets to multi-brand retail”.
However, after the meeting Ms. Banerjee had said that the issue of FDI in retail was not discussed with Ms. Clinton.
A Press release issued later by the office of Public Affairs, U.S. Consulate General, pointed out that among the issues discussed at the meeting was U.S. investment in West Bengal, including that in the retail sector.
As for her meeting with the U.S. Ambassador on Monday, Ms. Banerjee described it as “routine”, adding that diplomats call on her whenever they come to the city.
The leadership of the Communist Party of India (Marxist), however, raised questions over the timing of the meeting.
“Those who had brought the Congress and the Trinamool Congress together will again try to unite then,” said Leader of the Opposition in the West Bengal Assembly Surya Kanta Mishra in an oblique reference to the U.S.
“All the decisions, be it FDI in multi-brand retail or disinvestment, are being taken at their [U.S.] behest. The Trinamool Congress has maintained good relations with the U.S.,” Dr. Mishra added.
Obama is the word
“Now the maa, maati, manush [mother, soil, people] government is saying Obama instead of maa,” said the Leader of the Opposition in the Assembly.