New Delhi: Commerce and Industry Minister Anand Sharma Wednesday said "strident and hostile" opposition by West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee against FDI in multi-brand retail has forced the Centre to shift a global investor meet from Kolkata to Agra in Uttar Pradesh.
"...Given the strident opposition and a hostile approach to FDI in general, it would not be appropriate to invite corporate leaders of the world and the global investors to Kolkata when the government is totally opposed to FDI.
"So, we have been compelled to shift because I cannot take the corporate leaders of the world to a place where they will face opposition and demonstrations," he said.
He said this in reply to a query on the reasons for shifting the Global Partnership Summit, 2013 to Agra.
The Summit which attracts industry leaders from across the globe, was scheduled to be held in Kolkata in January next year. It is being organised by the Commerce and Industry Ministry in partnership with industry body CII.
Trinamool Congress, led by Banerjee, has withdrawn its support to the UPA government in protest against economic reforms like FDI in multi-brand retail, cap on subsidised cylinders and diesel price hike.
"When the West Bengal Chief Minister leads a demonstration against FDI, how can global investors and corporate leaders be invited. You may end up in a situation where the TMC government is demonstrating against the foreign investors. We cannot have it. We cannot take the risk," Sharma said.
When told that Samajwadi Party, which is power in Uttar Pradesh, is also opposing FDI In retail, he said: "I do not think that FDI investments as such they are opposed. There is a difference. Mamata is opposed to all FDI. I have spoken today to UP Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav, who is welcoming and thankful to the central government for hosting it."
He said that the UP government has "endorsed" the summit.
"I am sure that...He (SP supremo Mulayam Singh Yadav) will not lead a demonstration against investors," he said in a reply to query.
"If Mamata Banerjee does not want any investment domestic or foreign that is her decision and I painfully respect it. The people of Bengal choose Mamata for change, for the better and not a change which negates progress," Sharma said.
The Minister said he was told that in the election manifesto, Trinamool Congress has not opposed FDI in multi- brand retail.
Further, talking about global retailers he said that the foreign players will apply as per the format and as per the multi-brand retail policy and it will go for scrutiny.
"I am sure that investments will come," he said adding that global retailers would fulfill all the conditions of the policy.