The government’s go-ahead to FDI in multi-brand retail on Friday drove another wedge between the Congress and the Trinamool Congress, with West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee threatening to take “hard decisions” if the decision wasn't reconsidered within 72 hours.
Banerjee, who has also demanded a rollback of the diesel price hike, said the decision was a “big jolt” and called an emergency meeting of her party in Kolkata on September 18.
“We are really sorry. We cannot support anything that is against the interests of the poor and common people. Loot cholchhe loot (it’s a loot),” she reacted on Facebook.
Banerjee, however, has limited options. She can disallow retail FDI in Bengal as the decision lies with states. But strident opposition may be seen as opposing states that favour the reform.
The issue divided the NDA as well. While the Akali Dal patted the government for the “bold initiative that will help farmers get better prices for their produce”, the BJP was severely critical.
“The decision has jeopardised the livelihood of millions of retail traders,” said Rajnath Singh, former BJP president.
BJP chief spokesperson Ravi Shankar Prasad accused the government of bowing to foreign pressure.
The Samajwadi Party, which supports the UPA government from outside, was guarded in its response. “We are opposed to it in principle,” said Rajesh Dixit, party general secretary.
CPI(M) general secretary Prakash Karat said the decision will spell doom for lakhs of small shop-owners. CPI leader D Raja said the government had gone back on its commitment to consult all stakeholders and the chief ministers on the issue.