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Sorry, we won't back FDI, Mamata tells Manmohan

In a virtual rebuff to the prime minister, West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee today categorically told Manmohan Singh that though she did not want his government to fall, supporting it on the issue of foreign equity in retail was a "problem" for her party. Saubhadra Chatterji reports.

india Updated: Dec 03, 2011 00:17 IST
Saubhadra Chatterji
Saubhadra Chatterji
Hindustan Times

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's personal effort to bring Mamata Banerjee's Trinamool Congress on board on the issue of 51% foreign direct investment (FDI) in multi-brand retail cut no ice on Friday.

The West Bengal chief minister flatly told Singh: "It is not possible for us to support FDI entry into retail. I am sorry."

To steer clear of any political blame-game, Banerjee also clarified that she doesn't want the government to fall on this issue.

"The Prime Minister telephoned me. I told him we don't want the government to be toppled on this issue. This is a very sensitive issue," she said.

The Congress has not, however, given up hope. The Congress core group that met on Friday evening decided to hold further talks with its ally ahead of the next sitting of the Lok Sabha. The House is to meet on Wednesday, providing ample time for the Congress bid to win over its allies.

Top sources in the Congress said party president Sonia Gandhi might speak to Banerjee on FDI in retail.

Congress sources said the Prime Minister reiterated to the Trinamool Congress chief how allowing the entry of FDI in retail would help the Indian economy and harped on the fact that the state governments are free to take their own decision on the matter.

But Banerjee maintained it would harm farmers and her party can't support the move.

First Published: Dec 02, 2011 18:00 IST