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Azad fails to convince Karuna

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

Union health minister Ghulam Nabi Azad, who met DMK president Karunandihi for over an hour on Sunday, said: “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.” The DMK has 18 members in the Lok Sabha.

According to DMK sources, Karunanidhi explained that the DMK 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 has taken a vehement stand against FDI in retail the DMK cannot be seen adopting a weak approach.

Apparently the DMK wants to assess the stand to be taken by outside supporters like SP and BSP to see how the numbers would be stacked against the government. If the government has enough numbers to push through a resolution without the support of the DMK, it would suit Karunanidhi so his party can then abstain from the vote and keep its credentials among small traders intact.

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