The Samajwadi Party joining hands with the Left, the Janata Dal (United) and UPA constituent Trinamool Congress in opposing 51 per cent foreign direct investment in multibrand retail may stall announcement of this policy measure.

Commerce and Industry Minister Anand Sharma has been trying to evolve a consensus by taking up the issue with Chief Ministers.

He was confident that a consensus would emerge and this reform, which would ensure remunerative prices for farmers, would come through. However, Mr. Sharma refused to comment on the move by some parties to oppose 51 per cent FDI in multibrand retail. “I have not seen any letter and I will not comment. I have talked to everyone on the issue,” he told reporters on Monday.

The support by Mulayam Singh Yadav’s party to the anti-FDI move is likely to make things more difficult for Mr. Sharma.

Last week Mr. Sharma held talks with Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal and Haryana Chief Minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda. He has been writing to Chief Ministers including Nitish Kumar of Bihar, Akhilesh Yadav of Uttar Pradesh and Naveen Patnaik of Odisha to convince them.

U.S. President Barack Obama has said India was slow on reforms and singled out the multibrand retail issue.

In a joint letter to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Mr. Yadav, CPI(M) general secretary Prakash Karat, CPI general secretary S. Sudhakar Reddy, Forward Bloc’s Debabrata Biswas, Danish Ali of the Janata Dal (S) and RSP’s Abani Roy said parties across the spectrum were opposed to opening up the sector which employed about 40 million people. The JD (U) has already given notice to the Speaker seeking a discussion on the issue during the monsoon session of Parliament.

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