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Mamata gives 72-hour deadline to revoke policy

The introduction of 51 per cent foreign direct investment in multi-brand retail on Friday has created a political furore, with protests pouring in from the United Progressive Alliance's constituents as well the opposition. Protesting against the move, a key ally of the government the Trinamool Congress led the attack in tenor and quality, as the principle opposition party Bharatiya Janata Party [BJP] and its arch-enemy the Left followed suit.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had earlier said during the day that the time had come for big-bang reforms. He said, 'If we have to go down, we have to go down fighting.' This issue had been pending for a long time, because the Trinamool Congress did not agree with Singh's policy, which it termed 'anti-people'. As the Congress chose to offend its ally, the West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee slammed the government, issuing a 72-hour deadline to retract decisions on diesel, LPG and foreign direct investment [FDI].

'Today, a decision has been taken allowing FDI in Retail Sector. It is a big jolt. We are really sorry. We cannot support anything that is against the interest of the poor and common people. Loot cholchhe loot,' Banerjee posted on her Facebook page.

'Sometimes, speech is silver and silence is golden. We are not party to it. We are not supporting these anti-people decisions. We are very much serious about these developments and ready to take hard decisions if these issues are not reconsidered,' she said on the social media site.

'We are giving a 72-hour deadline to roll back the decisions. We will discuss and take a tough stand at the TMC parliamentary party meeting on Tuesday if the government does not listen to us,' the Trinamool general secretary and railway minister Mukul Roy said.

Attacking the government, the BJP spokesperson Ravi Shankar Prasad said, 'The BJP strongly condemns this hurried decision of forcing FDI in multi-brand retail in India. In spite of serious opposition from within the Congress, its allies and nearly the entire opposition led by the BJP, the government has seriously jeopardised the life, livelihood and employment of five crore people involved in retail trade in the country.'

Criticising the decision, the Left said that the government's move would create further crisis in the country. The Communist Party of India [Marxist] leader Gurudas Dasgupta said, 'This will not stimulate the economy. Instead, it will have adverse affect on small traders. Politically, the government is going down. The government under Prime Minister Manmohan Singh is responsible to the decline in the economy.'

On a different note, the Haryana chief minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda hailed the cabinet's 'bold' decision. The Nationalist Congress Party, another ally of the Congress, backed the decision. 'FDI is retail will benefit the farmers and the common man,' said the senior party leader Tariq Anwar.
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