Opposition fears SP, BSP may vote for government

Last Updated: Wed, Dec 05, 2012 12:26 hrs

New Delhi: Apprehending that SP and BSP would bail out the UPA on FDI in retail, the opposition in Lok Sabha on Wednesday warned these parties as also DMK that history will not pardon them if they sided with the government on the issue despite opposing it during the nationwide protest.

Among those who made a scathing attack on the government over the issue were members of the JD(U), CPI(M), BJD, Shiv Sena and AIADMK.

UPA ally NCP, which is a major partner in Maharashtra government, suggested it was not completely on board regarding implementation of FDI in retail, with its leader Praful Patel saying the state's Coordination Committee will assess its impact as it did not want small retailers to be hurt.

But at the same time, he rejected the opposition contention that FDI was bad for the country.

Participating in the discussion on the issue, JD(U) leader Sharad Yadav said "history will not pardon you (Congress) if you implement this measure. I am telling this also to those who were with us in the 'Bharat Bandh'," called by the entire opposition, including Left parties and the BJP in September to protest allowing of FDI in multi-brand retail.

Looking at SP chief Mulayam Singh Yadav sitting in the front row, he recalled that SP, BSP and DMK were "with us" during the nationwide protest and said that 85% of the people would be adversely affected by the move.

"Sit over it again, have more consultations and roll back the measure. If you do not roll back, then we will roll back your government..... You can win this battle but not the war," Yadav said.

Parliamentary affairs minister Kamal Nath was seen sitting with the SP chief for some time during the discussion while Minister of State in the PMO V Narayanasamy was seen chatting with BSP leader Dara Singh Chauhan.

Castigating Union minister Kapil Sibal for saying that "allowing FDI in retail would check inflation", the JD(U) leader said Sibal had "x-rayed his government by saying that the decline in GDP, industrial production or exports will be checked only through FDI as if this is the only medicine for all ills, as if it is the only way to retrieve the situation."

Observing that successive governments had given slogans like 'Garibi Hatao', 'India Shining' or 'Aam Aadmi', Yadav said, "Not one of them favoured the farmers or the working class. Even our freedom did not provide much succour to the downtrodden."

Warning of more agitations against FDI in retail, senior CPI(M) leader Basudeb Acharia said while the Left has been consistent in opposing the move, the government has been "inconsistent throughout".

"The Prime Minister, as the leader of opposition in Rajya Sabha earlier, had written a letter opposing it. Congress leader PR Dasmunsi had termed it 'anti-national' in this very House. We have been consistent, you are not," he said.

Reminding that the government had said FDI in the pharma sector would bring international expertise and capital, he said the situation today was that "MNCs have taken over Indian companies and the prices of essential medicines have shot up."

He said the government had also brought in seed company Monsanto, saying agriculture productivity would improve. "But maximum suicides by farmers have taken place where it went and in ten years, Monsanto earned Rs35,000-40,000 crore in profits."

Quoting American studies against Walmart and such other multi-brand retail chains, the CPI(M) leader said there would be wide variations in what the farmers would get for their produce and the price it is sold to the customer "as has happened in several countries including the US".

He asked whether FDI in retail would increase employment, bring in new technology or improve exports and asserted, "We will take this battle to the streets. Wherever you try to implement this plan, we will protest. We will not allow Walmart to come in."

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