Street vendors protest the governments FDI decision in New Delhi on Wednesday. (PTI)
New Delhi, Nov. 30: The governments offer to accept an adjournment motion that does not specifically call for reversal of the decision to allow foreign direct investment in retail was spurned by the BJP tonight.
The BJP wants a motion that asks the government to roll back the FDI decision while the government is willing to discuss the situation arising out of the latest move followed by a vote.
When finance minister Pranab Mukherjee made this offer to BJP leader L.K. Advani after the second core committee meeting of the Congress, he said a vaguely-worded motion will not serve the purpose.
Mukherjee, however, is still talking to the BJP leaders. A senior cabinet minister said tonight: We are firm on our decision and will face a vote in the House. Such vital decisions cannot be reversed under politically motivated pressures. Lets have a debate and listen to reason.
The Congress core committee met twice today to discuss parliamentary strategy and the possible fallout of an adjournment motion but no proposal to dilute or reverse the decision came up.
Sources in the party rubbished speculation about differences between Sonia Gandhi and Manmohan Singh and said stray voices of dissent within the party cannot override the leaderships collective decision.
The meetings were attended by Singh, Sonia, Pranab, A.K. Antony, P. Chidambaram, Anand Sharma and Ahmad Patel.
Sources said DMK leader M. Karunanidhi had already promised to vote with the government but no contact could be made with Trinamul Congress leader Mamata Banerjee today. Congress leaders, however, ruled out the possibility of Mamata voting against the government.
The Congress leadership is not betraying any sign of nervousness and the finance minister again told a meeting of party MPs today that FDI in retail was a must to minimise the difference between retail and wholesale prices. Commerce minister Anand Sharma will brief the MPs in detail tomorrow.
Accusing the Left and the BJP of plotting together to derail the Parliament session, the Congress asked: Do they want Parliament to stagger from one adjournment motion from another?
Party spokesperson Manish Tewari added: We accepted an adjournment motion on black money and now they have shifted to FDI. We want to debate all issues but should every policy decision be subjected to parliamentary vote?
Both Houses of Parliament were paralysed for the seventh successive day.
The Congress asked people to distinguish between genuine opposition and political brinkmanship and rubbished talk of uncertainty of numbers in the Lok Sabha, asserting there was no possibility of allies like Trinamul and the DMK voting against the government.
Arguing that public discourse cannot be driven by paranoia, Tewari said opponents of the FDI decision should present evidence to support their prediction of job losses and ill-effects on farmers. He said several countries that adopted FDI in retail sustained high growth for decades and lifted millions out of poverty.
The Congress spokesperson divided FDI opponents into three categories: ideological, opportunistic and apprehensive.
He said the Left, which was opposing it for ideological reasons, should explain why China and Vietnam allowed FDI in retail.
The BJP, he said, was showing the same opportunistic syndrome as with the Indo-US nuclear deal. Tewari said the NDA had proposed to allow FDI in retail in 2002 and repeated this in its vision document for the 2004 elections.
The third category was apprehensive because of the propaganda, Tewari said, but added they should understand there is no difference between Bharti and WalMart for a small shopkeeper. Big retailers were already operating in India.