The deadlock in Parliament over the United Progressive Alliance Government’s (UPA) decision to allow Foreign Direct Investment in retail is finally over with Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee announcing in the Lok Sabha on Wednesday that the Cabinet decision has been suspended until consensus is reached. The Opposition accepted the Government’s offer to suspend 51 per cent FDI in multi-brand retail and 100 per cent in single brand retail.
Mukherjee said that Government would now try to build a consensus all the stake holders including the political parties, chief ministers of the states, retailers and farmers before implementing the decision.
“The decision on FDI in retail has been suspended till a consensus is reached through consultations with stakeholders. The stakeholders include political parties and states,” said Mukherjee amidst thunderous applause from both the treasury and Opposition benches.
Leader of Opposition in the Lok Sabha and Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) MP Sushma Swaraj, whose party had been vehemently opposing the decision, thanked Mukherjee for suspending FDI in retail.
“The decision to suspend FDI in retail is a victory of democratic process. The Government has bowed before the wishes of the masses and this should not be seen as a defeat of the Government. I congratulate the Government for listening to the voice of the masses. A decision will now be taken after a dialogue with all the stakeholders. I thank Pranab Mukherjee who handled the entire matter,” said Swaraj.
Several UPA constituents including the Trinamool Congress and the Dravida Munnettra Kazhagam (DMK) also welcomed the decision and hoped that Parliament would now function smoothly.
“We are happy that every political party agreed to this quickly. This had already been discussed between Pranab and Mamata. The Government just reiterated that today,” said Trinamool Congress MP Sudip Bandyopadhyay.
In fact Trinamool Congress chief and West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, who had made it clear that her party would not support the Government’s decision, had on Saturday claimed that Mukherjee had telephoned her to tell that the decision to allow FDI in retail will be suspended.
“The Government has decided to put FDI in retail under suspension. The Government’s decision is good. Let us function smoothly we have lot of Bills pending,” said DMK MP Tiruchi Siva.
Rashtriya Janata Dal chief Lalu Prasad said that the Government should go ahead with allowing FDI in retail only after a consensus is build among various stakeholders.
Meanwhile, retailers in India’s commercial capital of Mumbai celebrated the Government’s decision. Jubilant retailers burst crackers after the UPA decided to put FDI in multi-brand retail on hold till a consensus with all stakeholders was achieved.
Federation of Retail Traders’ Welfare Association President Viren Shah said that his association would continue its protest against FDi in retail.
The first nine days of Parliament’s winter session had been disrupted with no business being transacted as the Government faced a pincer attack from the Opposition as well as its allies over allowing FDI in retail.