Congress core group meets over parliament logjam


New Delhi : Top leaders of the Congress, including Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and party president Sonia Gandhi, are meeting here Wednesday to discuss the government’s decision to allow foreign equity in retail which has led to a parliament logjam.

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The meeting of the Congress core group is being held at the Prime Minister’s House at 7, Race Course.

Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee, Defence Minister A.K. Antony, Home Minister P. Chidambaram, Commerce Minister Anand Sharma and political secretary to the Congress president Ahmed Patel are attending the meeting.

The meeting, which started in the afternoon, comes after Mukherjee Wednesday met Congress MPs to discuss the standoff over the decision to allow foreign equity in retail.

The government’s known troubleshooter held a brief meeting with Gandhi at her 10 Janpath residence before meeting party MPs to allay their apprehensions on the decision to allow 51 percent foreign direct investment (FDI) in multi-brand retail and 100 percent in single brand retail, sources said.

The Congress’ meetings assume significance in the wake of opposition to the move even from within the party.

Congress MP from Uttar Pradesh Sanjay Singh Tuesday criticised the government, saying the move would hurt the poor and the timing was not right because of the upcoming assembly elections in his state.

Kerala Congress chief Ramesh Chennithala has written a letter to Singh, opposing the decision. He also requested Kerala Chief Minister Oommen Chandy not to implement the move in the state.

Standoff with the opposition has led to a logjam in parliament, which could not run at all for the first seven days of the 21-day winter session that began Nov 22 due to various issues, including FDI in retail.