Trinamool, DMK join Oppn on FDI

Parliament paralysed; Pranab to convene all-party meeting today
Last Updated 28 November 2011, 20:34 IST

As the functioning of Parliament stalled for the fifth day in the winter session, an all-party meet will be held on Tuesday morning to discuss a way out of the impasse.
With the Opposition displaying rare unity against the decision to allow 51 per cent foreign direct investment (FDI) in multi-brand retail, Leader of the Lok Sabha and Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee will meet floor leaders of political parties with four or more members.

The DMK, which joined the Trinamool Congress in opposing the decision, described as “dangerous” allowing FDI   alleging that it would sound the death knell for millions of small traders.

Upping the ante, NDA convener and JD(U) president Sharad Yadav and BJP spokesperson Shahnawaz Hussain said the question of allowing Parliament to function does not arise till the government reverses the decision.

“Rollback FDI in retail and (you can) run the House,” Leader of Opposition Sushma Swaraj told the government.

The move to allow 51 per cent FDI in multi-brand retail and 100 per cent in single brand retail has become the bone of contention with several chief ministers of non-Congress states such as Uttar Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Bihar, Odisha and those ruled by the BJP demanding the withdrawal of the “ill-advised” move.

However, the Congress, at a meeting of its core committee, is learnt to have decided to stand firm on the government's decision.

In the wake of swelling pressure, the Congress top brass, including Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and party chief Sonia Gandhi, held consultations this evening.
Sources in the government, however, ruled out the possibility of the withdrawal of the decision on FDI, but the government could accommodate certain concerns of the Opposition by tweaking the conditions so that the kirana shops could be integrated in the supply chains of the global retailers.

The two Houses could not transact business for the fifth day after the winter session of Parliament commenced on November 22.

The Opposition is insisting on admission of the adjournment notices on the issue and a discussion in both Houses under a rule that entails voting. Though the government is ready for a debate, it is not in favour of voting on the issue.

In the Lok Sabha, the Opposition MPs were on their feet soon after the House resumed sitting. Murli Manohar Joshi of the BJP, who had submitted a notice to adjourn the Question Hour to take up the issue, insisted on its admission by the Speaker. When members of various parties trooped into the Well of the House, the Speaker adjourned Lok Sabha till noon.

But, pandemonium continued after the House reassembled, even as Deputy Speaker Karia Munda adjourned the House till Tuesday. In the Rajya Sabha too, V Maitreyan of the AIADMK moved an adjournment motion asking for a discussion on the FDI under a rule that entails voting.

The Upper House witnessed uproar and was adjourned twice, initially till 12 noon and then for the rest of the day.

Commerce Minister Anand Sharma wrote to the leaders of  political parties in a bid to dispel their doubts on the policy and drive home the point that the move would benefit the farmers, consumers and create about more job opportunities.

Sharma shot off missives to J Jayalalitha of Tamil Nadu, Biju Patnaik of Odisha, Mayawati in Uttar Pradesh and Mamata Banerjee of West Bengal pointing out that the decision was just an enabling framework and the state governments had the prerogative to adopt or reject it.

(Published 28 November 2011, 08:39 IST)

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