Prime minister Manmohan Singh’s bid to reach out to the BJP in running the House and getting important bills has failed. The dinner Singh hosted for leader of opposition in Lok Sabha Sushma Swaraj, leader of opposition in Rajya Sabha Arun Jaitley and senior leader L.K.Advani did not yield results.
The Lok Sabha was adjourned for the second day as opposition parties shouted slogans, “Take back FDI in retail’, first immediately after 11am and the second time after 12.
The prime minister appealed to the BJP leaders to think of national interest while the leaders of the main opposition party stuck to their demand that the government should honour the commitments by then finance minister Pranab Mukherjee and minister for industry and commerce Anand Sharma that the issue of FDI in retail will be discussed in parliament and consensus evolved before the government decides on the issue. Swaraj gave a copy of the statement of Mukherjee in Lok Sabha to Singh.
BJP sources indicated that the party will stick to its demand even if it means that the winter session will be washed out. They said that the government should not be obstinate because all that they would face is an embarrassment because the majority of the partners including those supporting the UPA will be voting against it, and that there is no threat to the government. This is an indirect indication that the BJP is not interested in bringing down the government as much as pushing it into a corner and scoring a political point.
Party spokesman Shah Nawaz Husain said there is not much hope that the issue will be resolved at the all-party meeting that the government has convened on Monday because BJP and other opposition parties are not going to relent on their demand for a discussion and a vote on FDI in retail.
A senior minister, speaking on condition of anonymity, said minister for industry and commerce Anand Sharma had written to non-UPA CMs like Nitish Kumar, Shivraj Singh Chauhan, Naveen Patnaik, and that the officials in the commerce ministry had written to the chief secretaries of the states, and that the reponses in many cases were positive.
It is also being said that Sharma spoke to the other stakeholders including farmers’ representatives, consumer activists and traders, and that the government decision was based on wide ranging consultation.