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When Dinesh Trivedi walked out of Cabinet meet

Last updated on: November 25, 2011 17:40 IST
In Parliament on Friday, when Supriya Sule, daughter of Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar, and Member of Parliament, encountered Railway Minister Dinesh Trivedi she asked him: "Is it true that you walked out of Cabinet yesterday?"

Trivedi did not deny it. He just avoided the question. He tried to explain to Sule the tough stand taken by the Trinamool Congress over the most contentious current issue of FDI in retail.

Sule's father Sharad Pawar is one of the strongest supporters of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in bringing Walmart and other such European and American multi-brand retailers to India.

Even though the Cabinet has approved 51 per cent FDI in the retail sector, it is vertically divided over the issue, which is creating waves across India.

When asked, Trivedi refused to elaborate if he had walked out of the Cabinet on Thursday when the Cabinet was in hurry to approve the increase of FDI in retail.

However, he said, "My party Trinamool Congress has many reservations and I am ready to argue at length why this issue is too serious to be taken up without detailed discussion."

He said: "What TC wants is debate inside and outside the Cabinet. Can't an ally of UPA ask for discussion?"

The issue of FDI in retail is solidly backed by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. Within his Cabinet he has many backers like Pranab Mukherjee, P Chidambaram, Anand Sharma (whose Ministry of Commerce and Industry prepared the draft) Kamal Nath and Kapil Sibal.

Among the allies of UPA, Sharad Pawar has backed the FDI in retail as much as the prime minister. In the Cabinet, AK Antony, Vayalar Ravi and Jairam Ramesh are not in favour of the issue in current shape.

Ravi has kept quiet on the issue.

One Congress minister, infamous for his elite attitude, is in support of FDI. He insisted that provision to acquire  at least 30 per cent of the procurement of manufactured processed products from small industries should be relaxed for companies like Rolex watches because no Indian manufactures, small or big, is sophisticated enough to match their standard.

Another Congress minister, who is supporting higher FDI in retail, said that provision to ensure that retail stores locations may be set up only in cities with a population of more than 10 lakh should be dropped.

But, among all ministers who supported the FDI in retail one Congress minister went as far as saying that Indian farmers need technology and they even don't know how to sow seeds and reap the harvest.

Railway Minister Dinesh Trivedi of the Trinamool complained that his party chief Mamata Banerjee had not been consulted.

Sharma claims that she had actually been briefed on it. Sharma went to Pragati Maidan to meet Banerjee, who was attending the event at the trade fair.

Sharma meant that in a public function, while sitting next to Mamata, he discussed the issue with her that would be affecting lives of more than 12 million families in India!

Some leaders of the UPA allies were shocked to find that on such a big economic issue government had got only 175 responses from entire India.

No elaborate exchange of idea in an open forum has taken place with the people who will be affected by the decision.

Sheela Bhatt in New Delhi