M A I N   N E W S

Govt puts brakes on retail FDI
Convenes all-party meet tomorrow to end logjam Oppn adamant on rollback
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, December 5
Having decided to put on hold its policy to allow foreign direct investment (FDI) in retail trade, the government will formally convey its decision to the Opposition at an all-party meeting on Wednesday morning. The government’s olive branch is expected to end the two-week-old logjam in Parliament and pave the way for the smooth functioning of the two Houses.

Confirming the government decision, Parliamentary Affairs Minister PK Bansal said formal invites for the all-party meeting were being dispatched. Consequently, Mukehrjee’s briefing for the Congress MPs on the FDI policy, which was earlier scheduled for Wednesday, would now held on Thursday.

After assuring UPA ally West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee that the Centre was deferring the implementation of its FDI policy, Finance Minister and Lok Sabha leader Pranab Mukherjee today called up BJP leaders LK Advani and Sushma Swaraj and CPM leader Sitaram Yechury to inform them about the decision. The government had to backtrack on its policy after it met with stiff resistance from its allies, particularly the Trinamool Congress, and a combined Opposition that wanted the issue debated through an adjournment motion entailing voting. Unable to persuade its partners to vote with them, an isolated Congress was forced to retreat.

In the dock on the corruption issue and charged with policy paralysis, the government had hoped to refurbish its sagging image by pushing ahead with such far-reaching and bold reforms. As it happens, its credibility has been further eroded after it was forced to step back on its decision.

“What else could we do...after all, we also have to see that Parliament functions smoothly,” remarked a senior UPA minister.

Sushma Swaraj was on her way to Indore this morning when Mukherjee called her up and informed about the Centre’s decision to hold back the FDI policy. “FDI is in abeyance till we are able to forge a consensus among all parties,” Mukherjee is learnt to have told the BJP leader.

However, when Mukherjee said he would make a formal statement on the issue in Parliament on Wednesday, BJP leaders insisted that he should first call an-all party meeting to convey his decision. CPM leader Yechury also made a similar suggestion.

How it happened

Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee on Monday called up Leader of Opposition in the Lok Sabha Sushma Swaraj and CPM leader Sitaram Yechury

He informed them that the government was willing to hold back the decision on FDI so that Parliament could function

The BJP and the CPM insisted that he should call an all-party meeting where the government can formally convey its view

Govt relents, calls an all-party meeting on Wednesday morning

We continue to stick to our demand of unconditional reversal of the decision on FDI. Mukherjee told us that the government has decided to put the decision of FDI in suspension and wanted the Parliament session to continue.

— Sitaram Yechury, CPM leader

I told Pranab da that he should pick up the threads where they were left the last time. Since he had promised to get back to the Opposition in the last all-party meeting, a similar meeting should be convened where the government can clarify its stand.

— Sushma Swaraj, Leader of Oppn in LS





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