Prime Minister Manmohan Singh yesterday reached out to two dissenting allies in a bid to lower the heat generated over allowing foreign direct investment (FDI) in the retail sector.
Singh talked to the leaders of the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) and the Trinamool Congress and tried to convince them how FDI in shops would boost the country's economy and generate huge employment opportunities.
While the Trinamool Congress, which rules West Bengal, has remained non-committal, the DMK has promised not to vote against the government in case the issue requires voting in the Parliament.
The cabinet recently decided to allow 51 per cent FDI in multi-brand retails and 100 per cent in single brand stores, paving the way for the entry of international retail chains into cities with more than a 1.5 million population.
The decision, however, has snowballed into a major controversy with the entire opposition, some of the allies of the government as well as sections within the ruling Congress party opposing the move saying it will hurt Indian farmers and small-scale sectors.
Prime Minister Singh, however, is said to be as firm on this issue as he was on the 2008 Indo-US civil nuclear deal, leading to an enraged Left Front withdrawing its support to his government.
Both Houses of Parliament had to be adjourned for the day once again yesterday without transacting any business with the opposition led by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) opposing it vehemently.
With no signs of the parliamentary logjam ending, the government as well as the Congress party yesterday swung into motion. Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee briefed party lawmakers on the Government's stand, followed by the meeting of the Congress Core Committee to discuss a way forward, after which Singh spoke to the two dissenting allies.