December 2, 2011

FDI in retail row: I won't shake my hips with you, but I won't kick your butt either, Mamata Banerjee tells Manmohan Singh

DANKUNI (WEST BENGAL): Remaining firm in her party's opposition to the UPA government's decision on FDI in retail, Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee has told Prime Minister Manmohan Singh that her party is not in favour of the government being toppled.

"I have had a discussion with the Prime Minister on FDI in retail. I told him that we don't want the government to be toppled on this issue. This is a very sensitive issue. But at the same time, it is not possible for us to support FDI entry into retail. I am sorry," the Trinamool Congress chief told reporters after an administrative meeting here in Hooghly district.

"Since you are requesting me, we can discuss this in the party. But our party's stand is clear," she said.

Urging the Prime Minister to reconsider and withdraw the Centre's decision, she said, "If necessary, the government should talk to all UPA partners and seek suggestions and ensure that the move is withdrawn."

"The Prime Minister requested me to reconsider my party's stand (on the issue). I requested him if the Centre could reconsider the decision. We have a definite stand on this issue. Our party's stand on this is declared in our manifesto," she said.

PM speaks to Mamata on FDI 

Earlier, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Friday reached out to Mamata Banerjee, the leader of key UPA constituent Trinamool Congress which is opposing the Centre's decision to allow FDI in retail.

Singh spoke to Banerjee, PMO sources said about the phone call made with an apparent aim of enlisting her party's support while citing the benefits the Centre's decision would accrue.

Trinamool Congress has been vociferously opposing the decision to allow 51 per cent foreign direct investment in multi-brand retail and 100 per cent FDI in single brand retail.

The Prime Minister on Thursday convened a meeting with leaders of Trinamool along with DMK, which is also opposed to the decision, but they remained unconvinced.

Singh gave no assurance on accepting the demand for rollback of the decision.

Trinamool Congress leader Sudip Bandopadyay, who represented his party at the meeting, later said the allies appealed to the Prime Minister to accept their request for rollback of the FDI decision.

"Sometimes allies may extend suggestions to bigger parties. It is not a Congress government. It is a combined government of ally parties," he had said.

Rejecting intense demands, the Prime Minister on Tuesday justified the decision on FDI as a well considered move aimed at creating jobs, improving remuneration of farmers and enabling import of technology besides benefiting consumers.