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Powell starts FDI diplomacy with Mamata

The US ambassador to India Nancy Powell met the Trinamool Congress supremo and West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee two days after her party quit the United Progressive Alliance [UPA] government at the centre.

According to sources, Powell was keen to know more about the reservations that Banerjee had against foreign direct investment [FDI] in multi-brand retail in the meeting that lasted nearly 45 minutes on Monday afternoon at the Writer's Building.

It was Banerjee's opposition to FDI in retail that prompted her decision to quit the UPA. It is believed that the Manmohan Singh government took the decision to allow FDI in retail under pressure from the US government and its corporates. Banerjee's objection to the decision and the subsequent pull-out from the government was seen as a fillip to parties in the opposition, like the Bharatiya Janata Party and the Left.

Meanwhile, Banerjee announced that she would lead a party demonstration at Jantar Mantar in Delhi on 1 October to urge the centre to withdraw 'anti-people' decisions on FDI in retail, cap on subsidised LPG and diesel price hike.

'Let us fight the battle boldly and unitedly. In a democracy, people is the supreme. Our voice is the voice of the people. We must raise our voice, so that the government must reconsider,' Banerjee said in a post on Facebook.

She said, 'We all will be present to highlight these issues and request the Central government to withdraw the anti-people decisions.' She said that the party's fight for the cause of common people continued with the help of 'Maa, Mati, Manush' throughout the country.

'I am thankful to all of you for supporting our persistent protest against the unethical decisions on price hike of diesel, restriction of LPG cylinders, increase in fertiliser prices and permission of FDI in retail, which are not in the interest of the common people,' she said.

She also requested her Facebook fans to tell their friends to join the demonstration at 1:00 pm on the day. [With agency inputs]
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