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Opposition mounts over FDI in retail, PM defends decision

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said there was no compulsion on states to implement the decision of the Union Cabinet with regard to allowing 51 per cent FDI in retail and there were options available to them for not implementing.

BT Online Bureau   New Delhi     Last Updated: November 30, 2011  | 22:27 IST

The deadlock on FDI in retail showed no signs of resolution on Tuesday with the government not yielding to the opposition demand for a rollback and Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh going a step further by strongly justifying the move.

Virtually rejecting demands from within UPA and outside for roll-back of FDI in retail, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Tuesday justified the decision as a well considered move and attacked Opposition for not allowing Parliament to function.

He said there was no compulsion on states to implement the decision of the Union Cabinet with regard to allowing 51 per cent FDI in retail and there were options available to them for not implementing.

Singh insisted that the decision to allow FDI in retail was aimed at creating jobs, improving remuneration of farmers and enabling import of technology besides benefitting consumers.

"I would .. like to a mention today of the decision of the government permitting Foreign Direct Investment in retail. We have not taken this decision in any haste but after a lot of consideration. It is our firm conviction that the decision will benefit our country," the Prime Minister said while addressing Youth Congress convention here.

He defended the decision taken last week even as Parliament was paralysed for the third day on the issue with Opposition, joined by UPA constituents Trinamool Congress and DMK, being unrelenting on the demand for its reversal. Voices of opposition have emerged from within Congress also.

"We believe that it will bring modern technology to the country, improve rural infrastructure, reduce wastage of agricultural produce and enable our farmers to get better prices for their crops," Singh said, virtually ruling out any reversal of the decision.

Even as the Indian Prime Minister put up a defence of the decision, it came under attack from a Congress MP who said that it would hurt the poor, traders, hawkers and farmers and demanded a rethink on it.

With a couple of MPs openly raising the banner against the FDI decision, the Congress party has called its MPs for a meeting on Wednesday in which Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee will seek to allay apprehensions on the issue.

Parliament remaining paralysed for the sixth straight day, government made an attempt to break the logjam but both sides remained adamant leading to disruption of both the Houses.

There were no signs of a thaw with Leader of the Opposition Sushma Swaraj declaring that the demand for a discussion through an adjournment motion which entails voting is "non-negotiable".

At the morning meeting, Leader of the Lok Sabha and Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee told the opposition leaders since the FDI decision was taken by the cabinet, he has to get back to the Prime Minister before he can say anything.



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