Do not sacrifice nation’s interests for FDI, says Joshi

Senior BJP leader Dr. Murli Manohar Joshi ruthlessly criticised the government in the Lok Sabha for paving the way for the entry of retail giants by allowing up to 51 per cent Foreign Direct Investment in multi-brand retail, despite the strong opposition from the people.

He said the people would not tolerate the decision. The BJP favoured retail democracy and not retail dictatorship. Walmart had indulged in corrupt practices in several countries, he said, asking the government to take care of the interest of farmers instead of promoting such retail giants.

It was a false propaganda that FDI in retail would increase competition. “If you want to sacrifice your head for the sake of FDI in retail, please do, but do not sacrifice the interests of the country for it,” Dr. Joshi said.

Rude shock: AIADMK

M. Thambi Durai of the AIADMK said the decision was a rude shock to retail vendors. He wondered what made the Congress change its stand as it had opposed such a move during the NDA regime in 2002.

Sharad Yadav of the JD(U) hit out at Union Minister Kapil Sibal for his statement that allowing FDI in retail would help the country check inflation. Mr. Sibal had said the decline in GDP, industrial production or exports would be checked only through FDI, as if this was the only medicine for all ills and only way forward.

Successive governments had given slogans like Garibi Hatao, India Shining or Aam Aadmi. “Not one of them favoured farmers or the working class. Even our freedom did not provide much succour to the downtrodden,” he said.

Gurudas Dasgupta of the CPI said there was pressure from multinationals, and the Prime Minister was even ready to sacrifice the government to implement the proposal. Allowing FDI in retail would result in a scenario of giants (MNCs) versus pygmies (domestic retailers), and there could be no growth.

Harsimrat Kaur Badal of the SAD said that allowing FDI in multi-brand retail was nothing short of bartering away the country’s interests, and that the decision would benefit only a few foreign companies. She wanted to know whether there was any safeguard for farmers. FDI in retail would give rise to a new breed of middlemen in the garb of quality-control inspectors.

Anant Geete of the Shiv Sena said the government, by allowing FDI, was inviting East India Company. “We will not allow any foreign company to step on Indian soil through the Gateway of India.”

Nama Nageshwar Rao of the TDP accused the government of favouring foreign companies and ignoring Indian interests. At the same time, he said while there had been protests against the FDI decision, none came up with a suggestion to help farmers.