Dankuni (WB)/New Delhi: Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's attempt to win over ally Trinamool Congress on government's decision to allow FDI in retail was on Friday rebuffed by West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, who bluntly told him her party cannot back the move.

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With 19 Lok Sabha members, the TMC is the second largest ally in the UPA and plays an important role in the key decisions of the Union Government. Keeping the fact in mind, the PM as well as few Union Ministers are making best possible efforts to ensure amicable relations with the TMC.

However, Banerjee also made it clear that her party was not in favour of the UPA government being toppled even as Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee asked the allies and Opposition not to stand in the way of other states implementing the policy.

Mamata said, “I apprised the PM of my views on the 51 percent FDI in multi-brand retail and 100 percent FDI in single brand.”

The jostling over FDI in retail continued to paralyse Parliament for the ninth successive day as both the Houses adjourned for a long week-end to reconvene only next Wednesday.
The Trinamool Congress chief told reporters in Dankuni in Hooghly district that the Prime Minister spoke to her on telephone and sought her party's support.

"I told him respectfully that we don't want the government to be toppled on this issue.  This is a very sensitive issue.  But at the same time, it is not possible for us to FDI entry into retail sector.  I am sorry," she said.

"Since you are requesting me, we can discuss this in the party.  But our party's stand is clear," Banerjee said adding she urged the Prime Minister to reconsider the decision. Banerjee also appeared unfazed by the remarks of Mukherjee that narrow political gains take precedence over implementation of policy framework even in a "calibrated and sensitive" manner.

"You can exercise your authority within your territorial limit but don't stand in the way of the others who want to implement it. Therefore, let there be an enabling provision and this is an enabling provision," he said at a summit, in remarks which were interpreted as a message for both the hesitant allies and the Opposition.

"....often narrow political gains take precedence on an early implementation of the policy framework even when it is being done in a calibrated and sensitive manner," said Mukherjee, who is also Leader of the House in the Lok Sabha.

Asked whether the government was prepared to risk a vote on FDI issue in Lok Sabha like in the Indo-US nuclear deal, he said, "We are discussing with the various political parties.
Sometimes it appears that there is no meeting ground.  But if we can find out an agreed text on which discussions take can place on the floor of the House amongst political parties, then perhaps we can resolve this issue.

However he added he was not quite confident and could not say that they would be able to do it. "But the process is on," he said.

Commenting on the Pranab’s statement on FDI, Railway Minister Dinesh Trivedi said, “The Parliament is not a social club or organisation, FDI in retail is a political issue. Only mean minded person can make a statement that FDI is opposed for political gain.”

After the adjournment of Parliament, the Group of Ministers on Media and the newly-appointed 11-member panel of ministers to articulate government's views met at Information and Broadcasting Minister Ambika Soni's residence.

After the meeting, Soni said neither Trinamool Congress nor the DMK was with the Opposition on the adjournment motion on the FDI issue. "The alliance is strong.  There is no question that we are not together," Soni said.

Asked whether the prime minister and Congress President Sonia Gandhi were on the same page on the FDI issue, Soni said "Please don't see ghosts where none exists."
When queried about voices of dissent in the party including the reservations reportedly expressed by ministers like Virbhadra Singh, she said Congress is a large democratic party.

"But once the leadership takes the final decision we all fall in line," she said adding at the same time every opinion matters.

Law Minister Salman Khurshid said it should not be seen as if the government was running away from a vote. "We are a confident government."

The BJP was dubbed by Telecom Minister Kapil Sibal as "FDI: frustrated, desperate and insular".

Soni and Parliamentary Affairs Minister P K Bansal said the long week end would give the government ample time to talk to allies on their reservations as also with other parties.
She said a discussion on the issue was alright without a censure motion and a 'sense of the House' could be taken. Then the government could take any of the suggestions thrown by the debate, she said.

The ministers said an adjournment motion on this subject was not possible because it was a policy decision and came within the executive's prerogative.

 (JPN/Agencies)