A day after the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government allowed 51 per cent foreign direct investment (FDI) in multi-brand retail, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leadership said none of its state governments was going to implement the decision in the state where the party was in power.
BJP leaders argued that though they were not opposed to the idea of FDI in multi-brand retail, they would not allow that to happen in BJP-ruled states since that would affect the core vote base of the party. Assembly elections were due in some of the important BJP-ruled states and the party was not ready to take chances, they felt.
Senior BJP leaders elaborated that another point of contention was that the manufacturing and agriculture sectors of the country were not ready to compete with multi-national companies, and the Union government had done little to enable them to meet the challenges. The BJP leadership has denied to discuss the issue with chief ministers and leaders of the Opposition in the states in the upcoming national executive meet at Surajkund, Haryana, in September-end.
“First, we have elections in some states, and we have to prepare for the Lok Sabha elections in 2014. So, we cannot hurt our core voters by accepting this decision. Second, the manufacturing sector is not ready to compete against multi-national giants that will come into India because of this decision. That is why BJP state governments are not going to accept it,” said a BJP leader.
Soon after the Union government announced the decision of allowing FDI in multi-brand retail, several BJP-NDA ruled states openly said they would not implement it in their states. The BJP governments in Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgrah, Karnataka and Himachal Pradesh have been the most vocal, as they are expecting assembly elections in the next one year.
Members of the party are also pleased with the Union government’s decision, as they feel it will help them consolidate their voters and also give them a chance to increase their vote share in most of the states where BJP has substantial presence.
However, trouble is brewing in BJP-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA), as Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) doesn’t want to join hands with BJP in opposing FDI in multi-brand retail. “The younger leadership of SAD wants to allow FDI in multi-brand retail in Punjab, because it feels the step will benefit the farmers, traders and consumers, but the older generation leadership want to be with BJP because of alliance,” said a senior leader of SAD. The Janata Dal (United) has already said it would not allow FDI in multi-brand retail in Bihar.