Monday, November 5, 2012

Explain U-turn in retail, BJP tells Congress

HYDERABAD, November 5, 2012

Senior Bharatiya Janata Party leader M. Venkaiah Naidu on Sunday demanded that the Congress leadership explain its "volte-face and doublespeak" on FDI in multi-brand retail.

Addressing the State BJP Scheduled Caste Morcha's executive meeting here, he raised a set of questions on FDI in retail.

Mr. Naidu recalled that Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, when he was Leader of the Opposition in the Rajya Sabha, through a communication dated December 21, 2002 to the Chairman, Foreign Trade Committee, Federation of Associations of Maharashtra, stated: "We should not permit foreign direct investment in retail trade … India does not require this kind of reforms which would, rather than creating employment, destroy employment."

Senior Congress leader Priya Ranjan Dasmunsi had said on December 16, 2002 that multinational retailers were continuously putting pressure on the government to take the "antinational decision of allowing foreign direct investment in retail trade," Mr. Naidu pointed out, wondering: if it was anti-national then, how did it become pro-national now?

Was it not a fact that the government decided to announce FDI in multi-brand retail in a desperate bid to divert people's attention on a day when the Supreme Court put forward six pertinent questions on the coal scandal, he asked.

Mr. Naidu said the BJP was not against reforms but it was against any measure that would hurt the poor. A consolidated market would restrict consumers' choice and multinationals would eliminate competition. "This has been the experience worldwide."

BJP takes out counter rallies

New Delhi Special Correspondent writes:

To counter the 'Maha Rally' of the Congress in Delhi, the Opposition BJP organised a number of rallies in the city to protest against the Centre's policy on FDI in multi-brand retail.

Even as the BJP's Delhi unit organised protest meetings at 14 places across the city, senior leader Murli Manohar Joshi enacted the dictum "bhains ke aage been bajana [playing a snake charmer's flute before a buffalo] along with Confederation of All India Traders (CAIT) secretary general Praveen Khandelwal at Jantar Mantar in an attempt to illustrate that the Centre had turned deaf to the people's demand to review its policy.

The protest by CAIT sought to highlight how the demands of the trading community in the matter of FDI in retail have gone unheard thus far.

Dr. Joshi criticised the Centre's "autocratic attitude" on the matter and said its ignoring the majority of protest voices inside and outside Parliament was a blow to the democratic set up of the country. "Though under the law the government is certainly not bound [to wait for Parliament's go-ahead] in this case, it is its onus to keep alive the democratic spirit of the Constitution."

He said the opposition, by nearly all political parties, to a policy that would have a vital impact on the livelihood of crores of people in the country was a healthy sign for democracy.

"Face Parliament"

Mr. Khandelwal said it would have been better if the Congress had, instead of seeking to rouse "artificial support" through its maha rally, prepared itself to face Parliament on FDI in retail.

The Delhi BJP organised its protest demonstrations at 14 prominent spots to criticise the "anti-people, anti-national and anti-trade farmer policy of the government."

Leading the protest at Narela, Delhi BJP president Vijender Gupta said the Congress, aware that it would not come to power again, had allowed FDI in retail trade: "It will have an adverse impact on [lakhs of youths]…. There will be severe unemployment and the farmers and traders of the country will become slaves of foreign companies."

Mr. Gupta said the economy would once again come under the yoke of companies like East India Company: "They [foreign companies] will create artificial scarcity of items of daily need and exploit the population."

Leading a protest at Kamla Nagar, BJP national general secretary Vijay Goel said while the Congress was claiming that 10 million new jobs would be created, 70 per cent of all goods would be imported and the middle class would be used by multinationals as their customer base.

Mr. Goel asked why the Centre was not equally keen on encouraging FDI in infrastructural projects and technology transfers, which would improve the industrial environment here.
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