* Signs of retail opposition within ruling coalition
* Parliament adjourned over opposition uproar
* Government changes position on retail sourcing
By Matthias Williams and Manoj Kumar
NEW DELHI, Nov 28 India's government
appeared to be backtracking on Monday over a move to allow
foreign supermarket giants such as Wal-Mart to enter Asia's
third-largest economy, as political opposition grew over one of
the most far-reaching economic reforms in years.
Powerful chief ministers of several government-allied states
and some legislators within the ruling Congress party are
pressing the government to reverse the decision, which was
announced only late last week.
Parliament was adjourned for a fifth day amid uproar from
legislators, and the Press Trust of India reported that Sonia
Gandhi, Congress party head and India's most powerful
politician, discussed how to end a standoff which threatens some
The government, with a parliamentary majority of around 18
seats, may call a meeting of the main political parties on
"There has to be some kind of rollback," said one government
minister, who declined to be named.
In a statement, the government said foreign retailers would
have to source 30 percent of their goods from small Indian
industries, after previously saying these purchases could come
from any small industries globally.
VOTE OF CONFIDENCE?
The uproar could force a vote on one of the government's
biggest reforms in years, one that would allow global chains
like Wal-Mart Stores Inc and Carrefour up to a
51 percent stake in retail ventures.
Losing that vote could, in theory, spark a wider vote of
no-confidence in the Congress party-led ruling coalition.
The DMK and Trinamool Congress parties, two of the
government's crucial parliamentary allies, oppose the reform,
and the main Hindu nationalist opposition party, the Bharatiya
Janata Party (BJP), said it will push for a vote, known as an
"adjournment motion", over the new retail regulations.
The reform briefly breathed new life into the government of
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, who ushered in free market
reforms 20 years ago, but who has since been bogged down by
corruption scandals and increasingly has been seen as a lame
The reform was always seen as a politically risky move,
coming ahead of major state elections next year that could
redraw the political map ahead of 2014 general elections.
The opposition claims the retail move will cost millions of
small shopkeepers' jobs. Supporters say it will draw in
much-needed investment to a sputtering economy, with more
spending on cold storage and warehousing that will ease
supply-side pressures that have driven inflation close to double
"The government has lost its mind. Does it not know what
its impact on the U.P. elections will be?" a Congress party
lawmaker said, referring to elections next year in Uttar Pradesh