Decision on FDI in retail suspended


NEW DELHI: The winter session of Parliament, which was paralysed for over two weeks, got to doing business after government announced that the controversial decision on FDI in retail was being put on the backburner till a consensus is evolved.

"The decision to permit 51 per cent in FDI in multi-brand retail is suspended till a consensus is developed among various stakeholders," leader of the House, Mr Pranab Mukherjee said in a statement in the Lok Sabha.

He explained that the stakeholders were political parties and chief ministers without whose involvement this decision "cannot be implemented".

Mr Mukherjee’s statement was immediately welcomed by the leader of the opposition, Ms Sushma Swaraj who said the government has bowed to the wishes of the people which could not be considered as a defeat for the government but will strengthen democracy.

Earlier, at an all-party meeting, the government and agreed on the statement that Mr Mukherjee would make in the House to end the stalemate that had left Parliament in a paralysis.

Congress allies Trinamool Congress and DMK, which had also opposed the decision, were also a party to the decision.

The Opposition parties, which had been demanding a complete rollback of the FDI decision, on Wednesday claimed that the minister’s statement on suspension amounted to a virtual rollback and they had no problem with that.

Signs of the issue blowing over emerged last Saturday when the West Bengal Chief Minister and Trinamool Congress leader, Ms Mamata Banerjee had announced that Mr Mukherjee had conveyed to her that the Centre will put the FDI decision on hold.

After Mr Mukerjhee’s statement, the Speaker, Ms Meira Kumar disallowed the adjournment motions moved by several opposition parties, including the BJP, the Left and BSP. BSP members were dissatisfied and staged a walkout.

The House then took up the question hour for the first time since the winter session began on November 22. The House later discussed and voted the supplementary demands for grants for 2011-12.

In the Rajya Sabha, the Commerce Minister, Mr Anand Sharma made the statement on the suspension of the government decision on FDI in retail.

A BSP member, however, expressed opposition to the suspension of FDI in multi-brand retail and staged a walkout saying that his party wants nothing but rollback of the decision.

Mr Sitaram Yechury (CPI-M) said the state governments should be included in the consultation process.

The Rajya Sabha took up a short-duration discussion on the price situation.

"This is a virtual rollback of the FDI decision, so we will allow the House to function. We are more keen than the government that Parliament should function," CPI leader, Mr Gurudas Dasgupta told reporters after the meeting.

He said the government had an "ego issue" in using the term rollback.

The Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs, Mr Rajiv Shukla said the government had not bowed down before the opposition.

"Process of consultation is important in a democracy and so the government had invited the opposition for this meeting. All parties, the TMC, the BJP and the Left, agreed to the resolution," he said.

The Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs said the Finance Minister apprised leaders of political parties about the government’s decision and that they agreed on that.

He said the parties sought some clarifications which included the ambit of stakeholders that are the states and all political parties.

"That was clarified to them after which they agreed to allow the House to function," he said.

Trinamool Congress MP, Mr Sudip Bandopadhyay said ways to resolve the crisis in Parliament had been taken up by the Finance Minister with Ms Banerjee.

The government had discussed the contents of the proposal with Ms Banerjee to break the logjam, he said.

Mr Lalu Prasad, leader of the RJD, which is extending outside support to the government, said, "The decision to permit 51 per cent FDI in retail trade has been suspended till a consensus is developed among various stakeholders."

The Renewable Energy Minister, Dr Farooq Abdullah said the FDI move has been suspended by the government and that a decision on it would be taken only after talks with various political parties, chief ministers and other stakeholders.

"There is no rollback. It has been suspended so that Parliament can function," Dr Abdullah said.

The meeting had been convened by the government at the suggestion of opposition parties, including the BJP and the Left.


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