The opposition leaders on Monday insisted on a complete rollback and not just holdback of the decision on foreign direct investment (FDI) in retail when finance minister Pranab Mukherjee sounded them out to resolve the stalemate in Parliament, which has been paralysed since it met on November 21.
Both BJP leader of opposition Sushma Swaraj and CPI(M) leader Sitaram Yechury told Mukherjee that they favoured an all-party meeting (which the government later said would be held on Wednesday) and a formal announcement of a rollback as a precursor to smooth functioning of the two Houses.
Mukherjee's informal communication to both the leaders came two days after Trinamool Congress leader and West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee announced that the finance minister had conveyed to her that the FDI decision was on hold till a "consensus" was reached.
Swaraj said, “Mukherjee told me that the government is interested in making a statement on the issue in the Lok Sabha.. I told him to convene an all party meeting first where the government should make its stand clear on the FDI row."
She said "I told Pranabda that he should pick up the threads where they were left the last time. Since he had promised to get back to the opposition in the last all-party meeting, a similar meeting should be convened on Wednesday (December 7) in the morning where the government can clarify its stand."
Mukherjee informed Yechury the government had decided to suspend its decision on FDI and also said that the government will take a final decision on the issue only after consulting the opposition parties in Parliament and other "stake holders."
Yechury conveyed to Mukherjee that CPM wanted an "unconditional reversal" of the decision in the interest of the country and people.
Asked about the BJP's response if the government only offered to defer the decision on the ground of "making changes" in the policy, Swaraj said her party was firm on rollback of FDI in multi-brand retail but will wait for the government’s statement on Wednesday.
Swaraj added that even if the FDI deadlock was resolved, the BJP would press for acceptance of its adjournment motion on black money and a debate on price rise (moved by the Left parties) under Rule 193 (which does not entail voting).
Asked whether Mukherjee talked about rollback of the decision or merely about holding it back, Swaraj said he had not discussed the issue in detail and insisted on making the stand clear on the floor of the House.