Call for nation-wide protest on Sept 20
Allies of the ruling UPA, the Samajwadi Party and the Janata Dal (S), have joined the Left parties, the Biju Janata Dal and the Telugu Desam Party in opposing the Government’s decision to allow foreign players in multi-brand retail and the hike in diesel prices. They have called for a nationwide “powerful” protest on September 20.
The National Democratic Alliance has also separately given a call for protest on the same day.
Mamta Banerjee, leader of Trinamool Congress, another key UPA ally, said in Kolkata that her party would “not accept FDI in multi-brand retail under any circumstances”.
She said her party would meet on Tuesday and take decisions, however hard, if the Government doesn’t roll back the decisions on FDI in retail, diesel hike and LPG cap.
Her party has already warned of stern actions and set three conditions to the Centre: A minimum of 24 LPG cylinders per household per year, ban on FDI retail, and complete rollback of the diesel price hike.
Party sources indicated that the West Bengal Chief Minister is “furious” about the decisions and party MPs have been asked to brace for any political development.
In Delhi, in a joint statement on Saturday, Samajwadi Party chief Mulayam Singh Yadav and other leaders said, “Let us all unite to stop these measures which will further burden the people and ruin their livelihood. Let there be a powerful protest on September 20 through hartals, picketing, demonstrations and court arrest programmes.”
Besides Mulayam Yadav, the statement was signed by H. D. Deve Gowda (Janata Dal-S), Prakash Karat (CPI-M), S Sudhakar Reddy (CPI), Naveen Patnaik (BJD), Chandrababu Naidu (TDP), Debabrata Biswas (Forward Bloc) and T J Chandrachoodan (RSP).
‘Bid to shift focus’
Earlier, BJP leader L. K. Advani said the Government’s decision came at a time when the ‘Coalgate’ issue was in focus across the country was viewed by some as a “desperate bid” to shift the focus of debate from corruption to ‘reforms’.
On its part, the Congress is reaching out to its allies. It is trying to convince every MP of the allies and supporting parties. The NCP has backed the Government’s reform initiatives, while the Akali Dal of the NDA has also welcomed FDI in retail.