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Updated: November 30, 2011 20:56 IST

Unfazed Cong backs Govt., says it has the numbers

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Activists of National Association of Street Vendors of India (NASVI) during a protest against the government's decision to allow 51 per cent FDI in retail, in New Delhi on Wednesday.
Activists of National Association of Street Vendors of India (NASVI) during a protest against the government's decision to allow 51 per cent FDI in retail, in New Delhi on Wednesday.

Unfazed by the united Opposition ranged against it on the FDI in retail issue, Congress on Wednesday declared that the government has the numbers in Parliament to face any adjournment motion, indicating that the allies Trinamool Congress and DMK will be brought on board.

“We have the numbers. If we agree to accept an adjournment motion on black money. We would not have done it without counting our flock,” party spokesperson Manish Tewari told reporters.

“This hair-splitting (about numbers) is not necessary, not called for,” he said dismissing suggestions that the Congress was apprehensive of its strength in the Lok Sabha and hence not accepting BJP and Left demand for such a motion.

Asked whether he is sure of the support of UPA allies DMK and TMC, who have so far been strongly opposing FDI in retail, Mr. Tewari said, “As far as allies are concerned, we are talking to them. At the end of the day you will find a very constructive resolution of the entire process.”

“What Congress is saying that the Government, as Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said, has taken a well-thought out decision. And the Congress fully supports the decision,” he said when asked whether he was ruling out any rollback.

Mr. Tewari’s assertions came hours after Congress top brass including Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and party chief Sonia Gandhi deliberated on the strategy after the FDI issue paralysed Parliament for the fourth day on Wednesday.

A party leader, speaking on condition of anonymity, said, “Allies including TMC and DMK will vote for the Government even if there is an adjournment motion.”

Rejecting objections to the move, Mr. Tewari said that the opposition to FDI by Left, Right and others (DMK, TMC and some Congress members) have “no empirical evidence” to prove that the move will have any damaging impact.

Mr. Tewari said while Left’s stand on the issue was ideological, that of the BJP is “opportunistic”.

Regarding the stand of others including UPA allies and some members within Congress, he said it was in the nature of “cautiously apprehensive”.

Asked in what category, the party puts the opposition to the move by its own leaders, Mr. Tewari said, “We do not comment on individuals.”

On whether Congress agrees with the timing of the decision when a Parliament session was on, Mr. Tewari said government is well within its right to announce any policy decision during its term.

“If the question is did we toss the ball in the ring deliberately with intent of disrupting Parliament, it is wrong. Quibbling over timing is really immature if the decision favours national interest,” he said, adding that the larger question remains, “Is Parliament going to straddle from one adjournment motion to the other?”

He said the government has rightly said that it had taken the pros and cons of the decision into account before arriving at it and any objections to it have to be backed by emprical evidence, which have to be brought on record.

“Public debate cannot be run by paranoid opposition.

“Prime Minister has very succinctly said that it is a well-thought decision... some of our allies are cautiously apprehensive. We are working with them and will address their cautious apprehensions,” he said.

If FDI in retail was such a bad idea, why China and Vietnam and Cuba (all three Left-ruled countries)permitted it, he asked, adding, “Even after two decades of liberalisation, Left unfortunately still sees multi-national companies as some kind of neo imperialists, who will gobble up Indian economy.”

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