FDI in Retail: BJP Slams Manmohan's Remark on Oppn
BJP today criticised Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's remarks that those who oppose FDI in retail are "ignorant", saying it is not the Opposition which is ignorant, but the UPA government and Congress party.

Addressing a press conference here, senior BJP Leader M Venkaiah Naidu said the Congress-led government in Kerala opposed FDI and the NCP, which is a partner of UPA coalition, said it will take a decision on implementing FDI in Maharashtra after consultation.

The DMK, an ally of the UPA, had supported the Bharath bandh against FDI and described it as "Foreign Direct Invasion", he said.

While the Samajwadi Party described FDI in retail as "an invitation to another East India Company" and would not implement in Uttar Pradesh, another UPA outside ally, BSP not only demanded suspension of FDI but also "complete rollback".

"Do you mean to say that your government in Kerala, your allies and supporting parties are ignorant, Mr Prime Minister? Who are ignorant and who will be ignored by the people will be known when people get an opportunity," Naidu said.

Addressing the annual general meeting of FICCI yesterday, the Prime Minister Manmohan Singh hit out at opponents, saying they were "ignorant" about global realities or were constrained by "outdated ideologies".

Attacking parties which had done a U-turn after speaking against FDI and then bailing out the government, Naidu said the argument that they did not want to be seen in the company of BJP was "ridiculous" as both DMK and BSP had shared power with his party and worked under its leadership.

He said BJP's demand was withdrawal of FDI and not to ask the government to resign and hence the argument of some regional parties about BJP was 'ridiculous'.

Recalling that Congress had opposed FDI in retail in the past and dubbed it an "anti-national move", he quoted the Prime Minister as saying earlier that India does not need that kind of reforms which would destroy employment rather than creating it.

If FDI was important to the Government now, then why did Congress remain silent all these years and why was it not included in its 2004 and 2009 manifestos as well as in its Common Minimum Programme?, he asked.

"It is not the opposition which is ignorant, but Congress and UPA government which are not only ignorant but at times blind to the situation in the country", he charged.

Claiming that government is in a majority and could survive the crucial test only through abstentions and walk-outs by "helpful" parties, he said BJP and NDA would not only oppose FDI in their States', but also roll back the decision when NDA is voted to power.

Naidu said the party would take up a nation-wide campaign after the winter session of Parliament concluding this week to reach out to the people and explain to them that "disastrous consequences" of the entry of FDI in retail and "dubious manner" the Congress and allies dealt the issue.

Replying to a question on reservation in promotion for SC/STs, he said BJP always supported the concept of social justice through affirmative action.

He said BJP wanted government to keep constitutional parameters in mind while dealing with the issue and it would await the government's response.

On Pakistan Interior Minister Rahman Malik's claim that LeT operative Abu Jundal was an agent of Indian intelligence agencies, Naidu said, "it was an absurd statement".

He said India should create more international opinion against Pakistan for its aiding and abetting terrorism from its soil.
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1/D-14
Dec 17, 2012
08:40 AM

(1) BJP is having double standards as far as FDI in retail is concerned. When NDA was in power, the same BJP had proposed to allow FDI in retail. One can understand left parties’ opposition to FDI in retail. All thee parties are conveniently ignoring the consumers at large. (2) Basic issue is whether the parties accept that our retail sector is inefficient. Concerned citizens’ feeling is that the inefficiencies will be partly removed by foreign capital which will considerably improve distribution. (3) The wide gap between price paid by farmers and consumers is always ignored. Leaders of political parties need to be told again and again that citizens (consumers and farmers at large) want their interests to be taken care of, with or without FDI. (4) Are consumers, who far outnumber the traders, not more important for these parties? (5) If instead of FDI, our own companies are able to manage the supply chain and are allowed to market farmers’ produce without interference from Agriculture Produce Marketing Committees, consumers would welcome such arrangement as foreign capital is only an enabling factor for making retail sector more efficient.

Narendra M Apte, Pune
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