Mamata reiterates opposition to retail FDI, but says won't topple government

Mercurial West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee reiterated her opposition to the central government's decision to allow 51-per cent foreign direct investment (FDI) in retail, but said her party would not topple the UPA government on the issue.

The Trinamool Congress (TMC) chief told reporters that she had told prime minister Manmohan Singh that her party would not support his government on the issue of FDI in the retail sector. ''I told him 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 support FDI entry into retail. I am sorry.''

With 18 MPs in the Lok Sabha, the TMC is the second-largest ally of the UPA government after the DMK. Both the DMK and the TMC are opposed to FDI in retail and if they vote against the government, it could lead to its fall.

The BJP-led opposition has been demanding an adjournment motion in parliament on the contentious issue of FDI in retail, confident that the two allies – along with 'outside supporters' of the UPA, including the Bahujan Samaj Party, the Samajwadi Party and the Rashtriya Janata Dal – would not back the government on the matter.

However, Singh has been calling up his two crucial allies, the TMC and the DMK, trying to convince them to back the government.

The UPA government last month decided to allow 51 per cent FDI in multi-brand retailing and 100per cent in single-brand retailing (up from the existing 51 per cent), in a much-delayed move to open retail to foreign investments (See: Cabinet nod for 51 per cent FDI in multi-brand retail).