Standing up to growing resistance to his government’s big reforms push, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Saturday said “courage and some risks” were needed to break the policy logjam and revive growth.
Singh’s speech at a meeting of the full planning commission indicated a resolve in the UPA leadership to battle it out as allies and Opposition took to the streets in protest.
The Trinamool Congress reiterated its threat to take “firm decisions” if the Centre did not reverse its decisions to allow FDI in multi-brand retail, hike diesel prices and place a cap on subsidised cooking gas.
“We are not in favour of toppling the government but they shouldn’t forget the lakshman rekha of the alliance… if you roll back, it’s good. If not, be ready for the consequences,” Trinamool chief Mamata Banerjee told a protest rally in Kolkata.
The BJP-led NDA as well as the Samajwadi Party (SP), Left parties, BJD, TDP and JD(S) called nationwide strikes and protests on September 20.
As the SP’s Akhilesh Yadav announced that global supermarkets would not be coming to UP, party chief Mulayam Singh Yadav called a nationwide protest on Thursday against the government’s “cruel blows”. BSP chief Mayawati said her party would take a call on continuing support to the UPA on October 9-10.
In Chennai, the BJP’s Arun Jaitley pointed out that the retail sector had the biggest self-employed workforce in the country after agriculture. “Structured international retail does not create additional jobs, it displaces existing jobs,” he said, adding: “International retail sources cheaper products internationally. So, the first dip will be in the manufacturing sector.” But the Congress isn’t too worried.
With 19 Lok Sabha MPs, the Trinamool can't topple the government. Without it, the UPA will still have 254 MPs and can survive with outside support from the SP (22) and BSP (21).
"At the most, she will pull out her ministers," said a Congress functionary.
Besides, Trinamool sources admitted to HT that though she wasn't scaling down rhetoric, it would not be easy for Banerjee to pull out.
The Congress' West Bengal affairs in-charge Shakeel Ahmed has already started back-channel talks with Trinamool leaders such as railway minister Mukul Roy.
The decision to bite the reforms bullet was taken at least two months ago, with the idea to shift the onus of taking the decision on allowing FDI in retail to the state governments.
"Why should Mamata or Akhilesh decide what is bad or good for J&K," asked Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Omar Abdullah.