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The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) on Thursday accused the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government of betraying the people by allowing foreign direct investment (FDI) in the multi-brand retail sector.
BJP leaders alleged as leader of Opposition in the Rajya Sabha, Manmohan Singh had opposed FDI in multi-brand retail, but as Prime Minister, he had implemented the move. They said according to a letter by the Federation of Associations of Maharashtra (traders) to Singh on December 20, 2004, Singh, while in the Opposition, had said India didn’t need FDI in multi-brand retail, as it wouldn’t create employment.
“We will not allow FDI in multi-brand retail. Senior BJP leaders L K Advani, Sushma Swaraj and Arun Jaitley will speak to other political parties and ensure the Union government is forced to take back its decision in the coming winter session of Parliament,” said BJP president Nitin Gadkari.
Senior party leaders say in the winter session of Parliament, the party would make all political parties take a stand on the FDI issue and decide whether they side with the Congress or the Opposition.
BJP leaders believe the Opposition, too, has been betrayed by the Centre, as Singh had earlier said any decision on FDI in multi-brand retail would be taken only after consulting all political parties and state governments. However, the Union government had taken a unilateral decision, without even consulting its allies, they said. “The UPA government couldn’t convince the Trinamool Congress, which was its ally. How would it convince the Opposition?” asked former BJP president Venkaiah Naidu.
Leader of Opposition in the Rajya Sabha and senior party leader Arun Jaitley argued the decision would lead to the loss of jobs in the manufacturing sector because the domestic retail segment primarily sourced goods locally, while multinational companies would source products internationally, thus leading to a drop in domestic manufacturing.
“The option has been given to state governments to decide if they want to implement FDI in multi-brand in retail, but this is a myth to mislead people. FDI investment is a central subject, not a state subject. International treaties on investment, to which India is a party, require national treatment. The deception is a trap for future litigation for FDI to spread to the rest of the country,” Jaitley said.
Some BJP members feel when another political party comes to power, it can’t reverse a decision by the Union government. “How can the decision to allow FDI in multi-brand retail be reversed when the BJP comes to power? This is against the convention. These are part of international agreements and a BJP-led NDA (National Democratic Alliance) government cannot just reverse the decisions of Congress government,” said a senior party leader.
The Shiromani Akali Dal, a crucial alliance partner of the BJP in Punjab, is divided on the issue.
Though Punjab Chief Minister Prakash Singh Badal wants to oppose FDI in the multi-brand retail sector, his son, Deputy Chief Minister Sukhbir Badal, favours the Centre’s decision.