Chennai: Ahead of a crucial all party meeting tomorrow in Delhi, the Centre today failed to get a firm assurance from its key ally DMK on FDI in multi-brand retail.
This emerged clear after a 90-minute meeting Congress emissary Ghulam Nabi Azad had with DMK chief M Karunanidhi in a bid to take the southern ally on board to counter opposition demand for a discussion on the issue in Parliament under rules that entail voting.
Observing that his visit was to obtain the views of the DMK chief on discussion about voting "if any and whenever it takes place in Parliament," Azad said, "I must be candid enough to say that he (Karunanidhi) has lot of reservations about FDI in retail sector."
Azad, Union Minister for Health and Family Welfare, told reporters he had informed Karunanidhi that when FDI was cleared by the Centre there were apprehensions among state governments and political parties including DMK.
The DMK leadership even at that point of time had raised objections to FDI, saying it was not acceptable to them, he said.
He said it was on the demand of a number of parties, including DMK, and state governments that the Centre made an enabling provision that it will not enforce the decision on FDI in retail sector on those states which are against it, and it was left to the respective governments.
Azad said he assured the DMK leadership that the Centre "will not force the DMK or any government to implement FDI in states against their wishes."
Noting that Karunanidhi suggested one more meeting of like-minded parties, particularly the UPA allies, Azad said he assured him that within a day or two, "we will have another meeting of alliance parties so that they can express their views."
The meeting assumes significance as DMK MPs, the second biggest constituent of the Congress-led UPA, has remained silent on the contentious issue.
Karunanidhi had earlier said "let it (DMK stand on the issue) remain in suspense".
The DMK patriarch, who had said his party was not in favour of allowing FDI in multi-brand retail, said earlier the party would "discuss and take a decision on the issue keeping the interest of small and medium retail traders in Tamil Nadu".
Reports said Congress was trying to convince DMK as it was keen on avoiding a major embarrassment of a key ally abstaining in case voting takes place.