The UPA government managers have renewed their hopes to bring FDI in civil aviation after the railway ministry—led by Trinamool Congress nominee Mukul Roy—has reportedly sought foreign investments to create its industrial corridors.
Trinamool chief Mamata Banerjee is yet to given her consent for the key reforms decision, according to top UPA sources.
Though the cabinet note for allowing foreign airlines to buy up to 49% stakes in domestic companies is lying ready for sometime, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh is believed to have asked his cabinet colleagues to build a political consensus to avoid the kind of opposition it faced against FDI in retail.
Last year, the government stalled its cabinet decision to allow 51% FDI in multi-brand retail after Trinamool joined the opposition to block it.
Senior UPA leaders told HT there was a case to argue for FDI in civil aviation as another key transport sector—the railways—wants it too, to develop infrastructure. “I am in touch with Mamata Banerjee and other allies and hope to bring FDI in civil aviation soon,” civil aviation minister Ajit Singh told HT at the sidelines of Hamid Ansari’s swearing in function on Saturday. “The civil aviation sector needs FDI more than the railways,” said a UPA leader.
A top leader also added that in the last week’s UPA co-ordination committee meeting, Singh raked the issue but talks didn’t proceed as no Trinamool nominee was present.
Singh had tried to talk to Banerjee on at least two earlier occasions. “Last time during the talks, Banerjee was upset over the hike in petrol price. So, she avoided the topic,” said a senior UPA leader.
According to sources Singh even tried to negotiate with Roy—Trinamool’s second-in-command. “More than once Roy was invited for tea. But he never turned up,” said a UPA leader.
Top Trinamool leaders such as Derek O Brian and Saugata Roy said they are not aware of any party decision on the issue.