In a sudden turn of events, the Centre has decided to put on hold the controversial decision on FDI in retail sector. West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee said that Union Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee told her that the FDI decision has been "suspended"
"I cannot announce anything. Parliament is in session. Any government decision will be made in the Parliament," Mukherjee said at his south Kolkata residence hours after Banerjee announced that the Centre government would keep in suspension its decision to allow Foreign Direct Investment in retail until and unless a consensus was evolved on the vexed issue.
Mukherjee confirmed that he had spoken to Banerjee twice during the day. "But officially, I can't make any announcement as parliament is in session." In a sudden and dramatic development, Banerjee said that Mukherjee had informed her over phone of Centre's decision to keep on hold the issue of FDI in retail.
"I had telephonic conversations with him twice today (Saturday). He has told me that the centre has decided to suspend implementation of the decision to allow FDI in retail. He has told me that the decision will not be implemented unless there was consensus on the issue," Banerjee told media persons. The sudden announcement, coming a day after the government firmly ruled out any rethink on the cabinet decision, took the media by surprise, and representatives of several national and local media were not present when Banerjee spoke. Also, though Banerjee is one of the most important leaders of the ruling coalition, she is not a part of the Union government.
Meanwhile, in the city many voiced disappointment, R P Shrivastava, coordinator of India Against Corruption (Navi Mumbai) said, "If the government was supposed to put retail FDI on hold, why did it waste public money by not allowing work to be done for nine days of the parliament session. We are sure the government has brought in FDI decision just nothing but to divert people's attention from the fight against corruption." Traders in Mumbai have decided to protest again if the government does not scrap its policy. Sanjay Pansare, director of fruits section of APMC market, said, "The government has put on hold the decision on FDI in retail sector to calm West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee. We will fight vigorously if the government goes forward with FDI."
While Gerson Da Cunha, founder of AGNI (Action-for-good-Governance-and-Networking-in-India) termed the decision of putting the new policy on hold as 'the greatest regret'. "The decision of putting FDI on hold is a case of blackmailing by the opposition. The Centre has postponed a good policy. At this juncture, maximum grains in the country is rotting due to lack of warehouses. If Wal-Mart comes to India, food items will be properly stored as they have advanced storage systems," he said.