The UPA government of Dr. Manmohan Singh had to put the Cabinet decision of 51 per cent FDI in multi-brand retail and 100 per cent 100 FDI in single brand on hold because of the fierce opposition by all opposition parties unitedly and intense pressure from two of its important allies- TMC of Mamta Bannerjee and DMK of Karunanidhi. But West Bengal Chief Minister Mamta Bannerjee was more vocal of the two allies. She bluntly asked the Government to rollback FDI decision in retail. It is because of stern opposition of West Bengal CM that no minister from the TMC quota participated in the Cabinet meeting in which the FDI decision was taken.
Though the message has gone out about the weakness of the government due to coalition compulsion, it must be lesson to it not to take any vital policy decision without taking into all its alliance partners in confidence and the nation as well. It would not have to bite the dust if it had done wider consultation with its alliance partners and opposition parties before taking the FDI decision.
TMC had already made clear to its opposition to FDI in retail in her election manifesto that was known to Congress. The entire opposition was already against it without knowing for certain whether it was beneficial for the economy of the nation.
More than two weeks of Parliament’s precious time was wasted because the entire opposition stood firm not to run it until and unless the FDI decision of Cabinet was withdrawn. In view of the opposition within the government, Congress party and alliance partners, government dared not face the debate under the articles that entailed voting in Parliament and landed itself in embarrassing situation. Pushed back to the wall from all corners, UPA’s chief trouble shooter Union Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee flew to Kolkata to assuage the most important ally TMC boss and WB CM Mamta Bannerjee by assuring her that FDI decision would be put on hold until unanimity evolved on the issue in Cabinet. Mamta disclosed Mukherjee’s assurance about putting the FDI decision in retail on hold.
The nation has taken a sigh of relief the at the end of boxing between government and opposition. And in between them public exchequer worth of crores of rupees was drained down the drain by stalling the Parliament without any rhyme or reason. Important bill like Lokpal is in line to be introduced in Parliament and several other important bills and business transactions had to be carried out. When the Congress-led UPA government knew it well that it was not a single party rule and it had to take its alliance partners into confidence before taking important policy decision, it was bound to be let down by the opposition and its argument in favour of its decision failed to reach the public due to stalling of Parliament.
Government says FDI in retail is beneficial for employment, farmers, consumers and developing infrastructure in the form of cold storage to protect 40 per cent wastage of vegetables and fruits rotting. In opposition to claims, the opposition describe FDI in retail as anti-people and anti-poor. Now, the Government must call all-party meeting to evolve consensus on the issue of FDI in retail if it is advantageous of the economy of the nation. Opposition parties are also required to play constructive and positive role.