New Delhi: On Thursday, Congress asserted that it will go ahead with the latest economic reforms, especially foreign equity in multi-brand retail, despite stiff opposition to the UPA government's decisions on the diesel price hike and cap on subsidised cooking gas cylinders.
"There will be no roll back of the FDI...we have strength on the floor of the house(Lok Sabha)," Congress general secretary BK Hari Prasad told.
Congress president Sonia Gandhi is also backing Prime Minister Manohan Singh, who stunned the Opposition, baying for his blood over faulty allocations of coal blocks, with the "unpleasant but unavoidable" decisions, party sources said .
The 'bold' decision, immediately made a "silent" Manmohan Singh the toast of the international media.
But, in an attempt to press the government to roll back its decisions, the opposition including the BJP, JD-U, Left parties, TDP, BJD and SP held nationwide protests on Thursday.
Miffed over the decisions, ally Trinamool Congress, with 19 Lok Sabha MPs, has already placed the UPA government in a working minority by announcing it would withdraw support. The Trinamool plans to pull out its six ministers from UPA government on Friday.
Congress sources said that the party was in touch with Banerjee and could reduce diesel price slightly while marginally increasing the cap on subsidised LPG cylinders but wouldn't budge on FDI in multi-brand retail.
"If we go back on FDI, our credibility will be dented," said a senior Congress leader adding: "Some BJP members also support the move." An unfazed government claimed the UPA was stable, had the required numbers and would add to its tally, if needed.
"We have enough friends today, we had enough friends yesterday. and so I don't see any reason why we should doubt our stability... And if we can acquire new friends, why should we not do so," Finance Minister P Chidambaram has said.
The government requires 273 members for simple majority in the 545-member Lok Sabha.
Though the Samajwadi Party (22) joined the opposition-sponsored protest, the party, which supports the government from outside, has indicated it will not let the government fall in order to keep the "communal forces" (read BJP) at bay.
The Congress is also open to roping in the Bahujan Samaj Party (21), SP's rival in Uttar Pradesh, despite the future political risks involved in getting support from party chief Mayawati.
But, Congress sources said, no parliamentarian wants a mid-term election at this juncture.
Union Information and Broadcasting Minister Ambika Soni claimed the government had support of over 300 MPs in the lower house of parliament and said the difficult decisions on fuel price hike, cooking gas and FDI were taken as there was no other option.
"We have the support of over 300 MPs who realise these are difficult times for the government and the country," Soni told reporters, adding, "There was no other way than this decision to keep the economy on track."