Bharatiya Janata Party members
burn an effigy depicting India's
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh
during a protest against foreign
direct investment in the retail sector,
in New Delhi, December 1
PARIVARTAN SHARMA/REU TERS
the bazaar cannot be opened
The Indian government’s flip-flop on the issue of foreign
investment in retail only exposes its weakness and
incompetence, feels Sheela Bhatt
The way India’s ruling coalition, the Congress party-led United Progressive Alliance, is wob- bling and drifting, you would think the Oppositionpartiesare
in power in New Delhi.
More often than not, the Opposition parties and critics of the government set the
agenda. Once in a while when the government tries to set the agenda — as they did
when the federal cabinet approved the
landmark economic reform of allowing 51
percent foreign direct investment in multi-brand retail — it has to eat humble pie.
Due to stubborn opposition from the
Congress party’s UPA ally, the Trinamool
Congress, the decision was put in cold
freeze last week.
Trinamool supremo and West Bengal
Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee is a populist and stern leader who will not bend if
anything is seen as compromising with her
party’s motto: Maa, Mati and Manush
(mother, motherland and people).
She has 19 votes (members) in parlia-
ment. If India’s Prime Minister Dr
Manmohan Singh had stuck to his decision
of FDI in retail, for the first time in the his-
tory of coalitions in India, an ally of the
government would have voted against it.
The government would have lost face. The
FDI issue was not worth allowing such ero-
sion of authority.