No DMK commitment over backing FDI
The UPA ally, DMK, is still maintaining its suspense on whether it will support or oppose FDI in multi-brand retail, an issue which has resulted in a stalemate in Parliament.
Ahead of a crucial all party meeting on Monday in Delhi, the Centre on Sunday failed to get a firm assurance from its key ally DMK on FDI. This emerged clear after a 90-minute meeting Congress emissary Ghulam Nabi Azad had with DMK chief M. Karunanidhi in Chennai in a bid to take the southern ally on board to counter opposition demand for a discussion on the issue in Parliament under rules that entail voting.
Observing that his visit was to obtain the views of the DMK chief on discussion about voting “if any and whenever it takes place in Parliament,” Azad said, “I must be candid enough to say that he (Karunanidhi) has lot of reservations about FDI in retail sector.”
Azad, Union Minister for Health and Family Welfare, told reporters he had informed Karunanidhi that when FDI was cleared by the Centre there were apprehensions among state governments and political parties including DMK. The DMK leadership even at that point of time had raised objections to FDI, saying it was not acceptable to them, he said.
He said it was on the demand of a number of parties, including DMK, and state governments that the Centre made an enabling provision that it will not enforce the decision on FDI in retail sector on those states which are against it, and it was left to the respective governments.
Azad said he assured the DMK leadership that the Centre “will not force the DMK or any government to implement FDI in states against their wishes.” Noting that Karunanidhi suggested one more meeting of like-minded parties, particularly the UPA allies, Azad said he assured him that within a day or two, “we will have another meeting of alliance parties so that they can express their views.”
The meeting assumes significance as DMK with 18 MPs, the second biggest constituent of the Congress-led UPA, has remained silent on the contentious issue. Karunanidhi had earlier said “let it (DMK stand on the issue) remain in suspense“. The DMK patriarch, who had said his party was not in favour of allowing FDI in multi-brand retail, said earlier the party would “discuss and take a decision on the issue keeping the interest of small and medium retail traders in Tamil Nadu“.
Congress is trying to convince the DMK as it was keen on avoiding a major embarrassment of a key ally abstaining in case voting takes place.
Meanwhile, the DMK plans to give notice on Monday to Lok Sabha Speaker Meira Kumar seeking a discussion under Rule 193 (without voting) on the fresh controversy over the 2G spectrum allocation issue. DMK Parliamentary Party leader T.R. Baalu said that the party members would seek the government’s clarification in view of fresh revelations by the former Chief Auditor in the Comptroller and Auditor-General’s office, R.P. Singh.
Singh had accused Public Accounts Committee Chairman Murli Manohar Joshi of influencing the final report of the CAG on the 2G issue. He alleged that Joshi had spoken to CAG officials a day before the release of the controversial report that held the government responsible for a “presumptive” loss of Rs.1.76-lakh crore by adopting the first come, first served policy in spectrum allocation. Singh said the loss incurred could not have been more than Rs. 37,000 crore and this too was entirely recoverable.
However, Dr. Joshi denied Singh’s allegation that he had influenced the final report. He even offered to quit if any of the charges against him were proved.
The DMK is the major victim in the 2G case as its representative, the former Communication Minister, A. Raja, and party president M. Karunanidhi’s daughter and Rajya Sabha member Kanimozhi, were arrested by the CBI. They are facing trial in the Special CBI court, Delhi.
- Asian Tribune -