M A I N   N E W S

FDI put on hold as govt stoops to conquer
Parliament begins work as 15-day logjam ends

Aditi Tandon/TNS



Passed the Appropriation Bill, 2011 moved by Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee, to seek additional funds through supplementary demand for grants to the tune of Rs 55,000 crore.
MoS SS Palanimanickam introduced the North Eastern Areas Reorganisation Amendment Bill 2011.
Tribal Affairs Minister V Kishore Chandra Deo introduced the Constitution Schedules Tribes Order Amendment Bill 2011


Debated price rise


The move to permit 100 per cent FDI in single-brand retail trade is on. “The Opposition’s primary concern was 51 pc FDI in multi-brand retail. They didn’t raise the 100 pc FDI in single-brand retail,” a minister said.

New Delhi, December 7
The 15-day logjam, which cost nine working days in this winter session of Parliament and made the 15th Lok Sabha the most `disrupted’ since 1985, ended this morning after Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee told an all-party meeting that the government had agreed to put on hold the decision to allow 51 per cent FDI in multi-brand retail till all stakeholders consented to take it forward.

The BJP and the Left today accepted the formulation on suspension of FDI in multi-brand retail trade after the government, upon their insistence, agreed to clarify in Parliament what it meant by “stakeholders”.

With Prime Minister Manmohan Singh by his side, Mukherjee said, “The decision to permit 51 pc FDI in multi-brand retail trade is suspended till a consensus is developed through consultation amongst various stakeholders. I clarify that stakeholders include the Chief Ministers of state governments and political parties because without the involvement of state CMs, this can never be implemented.”

The FM was silent on 100 pc FDI in single brand retail, implying that this decision was in force. The BJP and the Left have, over the recent weeks, been issuing statements demanding a roll back of 51 pc FDI in multi brand retail.

In the Rajya Sabha, the FDI suspension statement and subsequent clarification on “stakeholders” was made by Commerce Minister Anand Sharma who had been ruling out any rethink on the FDI decision.While the BJP decided to be gracious in the House, where Leader of Opposition Sushma Swaraj hailed the government’s move and said, “Government’s bowing to public sentiment should not be treated as its defeat. Such moves enhance democracy,” Congress floor leaders appeared satisfied with the strategy. It was important to get the Parliament functioning and allow the legislative processes to begin, they held and pointed out that the government could no longer be blamed for not doing enough on the Lokpal Bill.

But the Left Parties were not so gracious as they hastened to predict the demise of FDI in retail. “The government says FDI will go forward if there’s consensus among stakeholders. It adds that political parties are among stakeholders. If we are a stakeholder, consensus won’t be reached,” Leader of CPM in Rajya Sabha Sitaram Yechury said. His CPI counterpart in LS Gurudas Dasgupta added, “It’s a virtual rollback; not a hold back.”

The Left patted the government only on one count -- that it blinked midway into the winter session instead of losing the whole of the session as it did last year over the constitution of JPC on 2G scam.

It was clear that relentless pressure from Trinamool Congress’ Mamata Banerjee made the government blink. Accepting an adjournment motion on FDI, with allies not voting with it, was not an option for the UPA which would have lost the moral authority to rule if the allies abstained from voting. The government had hoped to convince Mamata over this extended weekend, failing which it suspended the move today.

The government today also clarified that the FDI suspension had been approved by the Cabinet. “When we asked Pranab to clarify the term stakeholders in the government’s formulation, he said the formulation was Cabinet approved and could not be changed. He, however, agreed to clarify in the Houses,” Yechury explained.





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