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DMK buys time on FDI in retail

Chennai, Nov. 25: The Congress failed to bring the DMK on board on the issue of FDI in retail and succumbed to pressure from M. Karunanidhi that there should be one more round of discussions among the UPA’s allies before the Centre finalised its approach in Parliament.

Union health minister Ghulam Nabi Azad, who met the DMK president for over an hour today, admitted that “Karunanidhi had many reservations as did many other states. We have agreed to have a meeting of like-minded parties, especially the allies, in the next two days before coming to a final decision,” Azad told reporters at the end of the meeting.

The DMK has 18 members in the Lok Sabha and is now the biggest constituent of the UPA after the exit of Trinamul.

According to DMK sources, Karunanidhi explained that the party would abstain after expressing its reservations over FDI in retail if there was a vote on the issue in Parliament. “The small traders constitute a large segment of our support base across the state and we cannot do anything that could affect their livelihood,” Karunanidhi is said to have argued with Azad.

The DMK chief had also pointed out that when the ruling AIADMK had taken a vehement stand against FDI in retail, his party could not be seen adopting a weak approach.

The DMK wants to assess the stand outside supporters like the Samajwadi Party and the BSP take to see how the numbers stack up.

If the government has enough numbers to push through a resolution without the support of the DMK, it would suit Karunanidhi. His party can then abstain from the vote and keep its credentials among small traders intact.

Ghulam Nabi Azad explained to Karunanidhi that FDI in retail had found support among western and northern states and that is reason the final decision to implement it had been left to the respective states.