Assurance to parliament on FDI not violated: Anand Sharma

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Commerce and Industry Minister Anand Sharma Thursday asserted that there was no violation of the government's earlier assurance to parliament that it would work for a consensus on FDI in multi-brand retail.

The minister was making the assertion after the opposition raised the demand for a discussion of the FDI issue under Rule 184, which entails voting.

BJP members in the Rajya Sabha have also given a breach of privilege notice against Sharma, claiming that the government had made a 'false' promise on FDI in retail.

Sharma had stated in the Rajya Sabha Dec 7 last year that the "government has taken a view that the decision to permit 51 per cent foreign direct investment in multi-brand retail trade is suspended till a consensus is developed for consultation among various stakeholders."

He had later clarified in the house that "stakeholders" include chief ministers and political parties.

President Pranab Mukerjee, who was then finance minister, had also made a similar statement in the Lok Sabha.

"Consensus does not mean endorsement by Prakash Karat (general secretary of the CPI-M) and L.K. Advani (senior BJP leader). Consensus does not mean unanimity," Sharma told IANS.

"We have not violated (the assurance given in parliament). It is wrong to say that," he said, adding that the government had said it would work on a consensus on FDI in retail, and had worked in that direction.

Sharma said the government will inform the two houses of parliament about its decision to allow Foreign Direct Investment in multi-brand retail, taken in September this year.

"Parliament has convened. We will inform the house," Sharma said.

BJP and Left members are insisting on a discussion on FDI in multi-brand retail under Rule 184, which entails voting.

BJP leader Venkaiah Naidu Thursday accused the government of "keeping the parliament in the dark".

He said that government should agree to a discussion on the issue under voting rules.

Naidu asked: "Why are they shy? Do they not have a majority?"

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