Opposition leader in the Rajya Sabha Arun Jaitley on Friday said the United Progressive Alliance government was trapped in its own web of "chakra-vyuha" with the ill-timed decision to allow foreign players in multi-brand retail. He said that the UPA had landed itself in a no-win situation, with no escape route.
In his second article on FDI in retail, Jaitley asserted that Parliament had reached a stalemate with no work transacted in the past nine days, "not because of the disturbances of the Opposition, but because the government is clueless to find a solution".
"A negative vote will hurt the government and so will the rollback. Today, it is faced with the dilemma of losing in both situations," Jaitley said.
He said the government finds itself in the "chakra-vyuha" because the parliamentary numbers are loaded against it. "If it rolls back the decision, the prime minister will lose face. If it agrees for an adjournment motion with a vote, the Parliamentary numbers are loaded against the government," he said.
Bharatiya Janata Party leader said, "The government cannot afford to lose the vote and hence its entire energy is concentrated on the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam and Trinamool Congress to get them to dilute their position.
Jaitley said that West Bengal Chief Minister and TMC Chief Mamata Banerjee was also in a dilemma on backing the FDI decision. "Small retail is the only significant component of Bengal's economy. Traders conventionally have been against the Communist Party of India (Marxist). If the TMC agrees to support the government, it can end up gifting the traders' vote to the CPI(M), thereby reducing its own vote bank. Its political opposition is therefore understandable," he said.
The senior BJP leader, who could be the party's candidate for PM in the next elections, said that any political observer would say that the FDI decision is ill-timed; both from the viewpoint of economic realities of India and the present political situation.
"The government's credibility is at rock bottom. The leadership has been unable to counter the allegations of both corruption and economic mismanagement. The agenda of Parliament was already loaded with issues embarrassing the government. With great difficulty, it attempted to ward off a voting motion on price rise and agreed to a voting on a resolution on black money and corruption," said Jaitley.
The BJP leader said he felt that the government chose to go for the big-ticket agenda to shun criticism that it is doing nothing, that it has abandoned the path of economic reforms because of which the business confidence in the Indian economy is declining, infrastructure creation slowing down, investment environment becoming destructive, fiscal deficit rising and the GDP growth also likely to slump.
Jaitley wondered if the government has come under pressure from the western powers as "when the NDA government was in power, we faced that demand from western powers seeking that India open up its retail sector to multinational corporations, but we resisted that pressure," he said.
Pointing out that there was a national consensus that time has still not come to open this sector, Jaitley said the government has, however, gone against this consensus. "It will still be prudent for the government to rollback the decision," he added.