M A I N   N E W S

Govt woes mount over FDI in retail
BJP to oppose move in winter session
DMK maintains ‘suspense’
CPM to seek debate

K V Prasad
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, November 14
The UPA Government is bracing for a political turbulence it expects in the winter session of Parliament with its key ally, the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK), today dangling the sword of Damocles over its head, unwilling to declare its stand on the contentious Foreign Direct Investment in multi-brand retailing.

A stand-off in the early part of the session due to begin on November 22 appears imminent with the BJP today announcing its decision to oppose the move in Parliament and indicating willingness to work on a joint strategy with other parties resisting the FDI move.

The CPI (Marxist) today issued notices in both the Houses of Parliament for a discussion and voting on a resolution opposing the decision by the government to allow FDI in multi-brand retail. Its MPs Sitaram Yechury (RS) and Basudeb Acharia (LS) submitted notices in line with the decision arrived here on Monday by the four Left parties.

While the Opposition battle-lines are drawn, what remains to be fine-tuned is the plan. The BJP chief spokesman Ravi Shankar Prasad today indicated it could be drawn at a meeting with its allies on November 21.

In Chennai, DMK chief M Karunanidhi maintained “suspense” on his party supporting the Left resolution. With 18 MPs, DMK is the second largest constituent in the UPA whose support is critical after the exit of 19 MPs-strong Trinamool Congress. The DMK had joined the September 20 opposition-sponsored Bharat Bandh to protest FDI in retail and LPG hike, call for which was given both by the NDA and Left, albeit separately.

“Small and medium retail traders in Tamil Nadu are apprehensive that Foreign Direct Investment would greatly affect them. We would discuss and take a decision on this (FDI) keeping their interest in mind”, Karunanidhi said two days after Finance Minister P Chidambaram met him.

Over the last few days, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Parliamentary Affairs Minister Kamal Nath hosted leaders of Samajwadi Party and Bahujan Samaj Party, which with 22 and 21 MPs respectively extend outside support to UPA.

On the resolution per se, it is for the Government to decide whether or not to agree for a discussion under a rule entailing voting, and even on the resolution text.

Small and medium retailers in Tamil Nadu are apprehensive that foreign direct investment would greatly affect them. We would discuss and take a decision on this (FDI) keeping their interest   in mind.

M Karunanidhi, DMK chief





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