PM opposed FDI in retail in 2002: Advani

Last Updated: Mon, Oct 01, 2012 18:41 hrs

Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) patriarch L K Advani on Monday trained guns on Prime Minister Manmohan Singh once again, attacking him through his blog over a ten-year-old letter purportedly demonstrating the PM's opposition to foreign investment in retail.

The BJP last week had released the 2002 letter by Singh, then an Opposition leader, in which he had purportedly expressed his reservations against foreign direct investment (FDI) in India's retail sector.

The letter, that has been cited by the BJP in the past, was written by Singh, then leader of the Opposition in the Rajya Sabha to the chairman of a Mumbai-based trade body on December 21, 2002.

The letter said that even though the issue of FDI in retail had been raised in the Upper House two days before, the "finance minister gave an assurance that the government had no proposal to invite FDI in retail trade".

The BJP, which has hinted it will scrap the move to allow FDI in India's supermarket sector that it says will hurt small traders and shopkeepers if it comes to power in 2014 elections, hopes that the letter will bolster its call to oppose the reform.

The UPA government on Sept 14 threw open doors to more foreign investment in India's retail, aviation and broadcast sectors, while also announcing disinvestment in four state-run industries in moves that were long seen as critical to revive flagging growth and confidence in Asia's third-biggest economy.

Citing the letter once again, Advani claimed the person to whom the message was addressed to -- C.T. Shanghvi, Chairman, Foreign Trade Committee of the federation -- attributed to Manmohan Singh an even more forthright criticism of FDI in retail.

"You had further mentioned that ´India does not require this kind of reform which would, rather than creating employment, destroy employment´," Shanghvi apparent said in the letter which Advani published on his blog.

The attacking blog by the senior Opposition letter came on a day when, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, leader of the Trinamool Congress (TMC). held a rally in New Delhi against the retail sector reform.

The reform, the came just a day after the government also announced cut to its fuel subsidy bill by announcing hikes in diesel prices and a limit to the number of subsidised LPG cylinders sold to households, had resulted in the pullout the TMC from the ruling Congress-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA).

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