Showing no signs of buckling under political pressure, of even key UPA allies and some senior party colleagues turning into critics, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Tuesday indicated that his government would not roll back the decision to allow 51% FDI in multi-brand retail.
Addressing a Youth Congress convention in the Capital, even as Parliament was adjourned yet again over the issue, Singh said: "We didn't take the decision hastily… The increase in foreign direct investment (FDI) will lead to the introduction of modern technology, give farmers remunerative prices for farmers and supply the common man with essential commodities at lower prices."
Earlier, on Monday evening, Singh had conveyed the "no rollback" message to key ally Trinamool Congress in his trademark polite but firm manner. He also told allies not to give the impression that the divisions within the UPA were widening as that could pose a danger to the government.Congress president Sonia Gandhi, who addressed the meeting immediately after Singh, maintained an intriguing silence. The party is sharply divided on allowing foreign retailers into India, and many leaders are worried about how the decision might affect the party's fortunes in by-elections due in some states like Kerala, West Bengal, Himachal and Haryana.
Perhaps keeping these divisions in mind, Gandhi, who will be the final arbitrator on the issue, did not speak on it at this point.
Meanwhile, the GOM on media, which met during the day, took stock of the situation and concluded that any rollback of the decision would further hit the government's and the Prime Minister's already beleaguered image.
Singh's spirited defence is unlikely to cut any ice with either the opposition or allies like the Trinamool Congress and DMK, who have opposed the decision. Finance minister Pranab Mukherjee will meet party MPs on Wednesday to allay their apprehensions over the issue.
On Tuesday morning, an all-party meeting convened by Mukherjee remained inconclusive. While most of the opposition parties and even allies like Trinamool and DMK demanded a rollback, Mukherjee said he would get back after consulting PM and other leaders. But by then, Parliament had already been adjourned. The government is trying to negotiate with the opposition over an adjournment motion on the issue to resolve the deadlock.