Strongly defending its decision to allow FDI in retail, finance minister Pranab Mukherjee today told Congress MPs that the government was "compelled" to suspend the move to avoid "pre-mature elections".
Addressing the Congress Parliamentary Party, Mukherjee also apologised to members who had supported the government in allowing FDI in retail but said going ahead with the decision could have created a "crisis" for the government.
"I am sorry to those members who had supported FDI in retail and might be feeling let down. But if we had gone ahead it could have created a crisis for the government," he said.
A member quoted Mukherjee as saying that had the government gone ahead, it could have led to mid-term polls.
It was the responsibility of the Congress to take allies on board, he said in an apparent reference to Trinamool Congress which had opposed the decision.
Trinamool Congress, a UPA constituent and partner in the government, had said it would vote in favour of an Adjournment Motion against FDI in retail.
This stand had created a piquant situation for the government, Mukherjee said pointing out that an adjournment motion was similar to a no-confidence motion and never before has any party in the government voted in favour of such a motion.
"This compelled us to put the brake on FDI decision," he said.
Making it clear that suspension of the FDI decision did not amount to roll-back, Mukherjee said that the government would strive to develop a consensus on the issue.