Govt calls all-party meeting to resolve FDI crisis

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New Delhi, Nov 26: Desperate to evade washout of another crucial parliamentary session this winter, the government has convened an all-party meeting on Monday to settle the continuing crisis over the issue of foreign direct investment (FDI) in multi-brand retail.

The first two days of the winter session has alsready been washed out and the danger of another complete washout is looming large. The monsoon session of the Parliament was virtually washed out this year after the government and opposition locked horns over the coal scam.

The BJP and Left have been demanding a debate on the FDI issue under a rule that involves voting. The latter has also moved a motion under Rule 184, which calls for discussion and voting. The opposition has warned the government that it will not allow the Parliament to function if the government does not allow them to vote on the issye.

According to the opposition, the government breached its promise made in the Parliament last year that it would consult all paries before arriving at a decision on FDI in multi-brand retail. The government, on the other hand, is expected to contend that it had indeed spoken to key stokeholders like chief ministers and political parties.

The UPA government, on the other hand, has resisted the opposition's decision saying it is an executive decision and does not require parliamentary approval.

The government will not crumble if it loses a discussion-and-vote in Parliament but it will surely face an embarassing situation and put the opposition at a vantage point. Apart from the DMK, parties like the Samajwadi Party (SP) has been opposing FDI in retail and hence, although Mulayam Singh Yadav's party has been giving the much-needed oxygen to the government after the withdrawal of support by the Trinamool Congress reduced it into a minority in September, there is little chance that the SP will support the government in a vote.

On Sunday, senior Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad met DMK chief M Karunanidhi to convince the UPA ally on FDI but could not achieve much. According to Azad, Karunanidhi has strong reservations on FDI in retail and has sought another round of meeting with other UPA allies. The DMK has also threatened to vote against FDI in Parliament and told the UPA that a vote be avoided for its political constituency in Tamil Nadu is strongly against FDI in retail.

The government, amid all difficulty, is hoping that the FDI logjam is resolved at the earliest so that other important issues like food security bill, Lokpal bill and others are taken up in the Parliament.

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