The combined Opposition and some of the key allies in the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA) insisted on an adjournment motion on the policy or its rollback as a condition to facilitate smooth running of the winter session.
The meeting presided by Union Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee apparently failed to defuse the raging political storm over the Cabinet decision approving 51 per cent FDI in the multi-brand retail and 100 per cent in single brand retail.
The DMK, Trinamool Congress and the Muslim League, members of the UPA, have also expressed their reservations over FDI in retail. They suggested the government withdraw the controversial decision and allow discussion on price rise and black money or agree to an adjournment motion on FDI. The Nationalist Congress Party (NCP), another key ally of the government that supports the policy, suggested a discussion on the issue to take “the sense of the House”, according to Leader of Opposition in the Lok Sabha Sushma Swaraj, who attended the Tuesday morning meeting with senior leaders L K Advani and Arun Jaitley. Yet another UPA member, the National Conference, supported the government.
Raising fears of another unproductive winter session, both Houses of Parliament were adjourned for the day after they resumed sitting on Tuesday amid uproar. The winter session has so far turned out to be a complete washout.
The government has listed crucial bills to be considered, which include the Lokpal bill and Food Security bill.
Sources said the government may work out a compromise formula with the opposition and agree to a discussion in the Parliament on the issue as there is no possibility of it withdrawing the Cabinet decision.
“The government has two options. First is that they rollback the decision and debate it, or they can discuss the issue in Parliament under adjournment motion, followed by voting. If it is passed by the House, they can go forward with it,” Swaraj told the media.
She also questioned the timing of the government’s announcement and wondered as to why it was Pranab Mukherjee and not the prime minister who presided over the meeting. She said the BJP will not re-negotiate wording of the adjournment motion on the FDI.
Parliamentary Affairs Minister Pawan Kumar Bansal’s argument that two adjournment motions cannot be accepted in the same session was incorrect, as in 2002 during the NDA government, two adjournment motions, including the one moved by Congress president Sonia Gandhi, were admitted in the Lower House, she added.