New Delhi: Much to its embarrassment, the
BJP, which is vehemently opposing FDI in retail, on Tuesday
admitted that the 2004 election manifesto of NDA had promised
to allow 26 per cent FDI in the sector, and tried to explain
away the volte-face on the issue.
"It is a reality. We have not denied it. But in 2009 we
had changed it. In 2004, the NDA may have seen some merit....
We are not against the concept of FDI but not in retail. There
may have been some rationale for it in 2004," Leader of
Opposition in Rajya Sabha Arun Jaitley told reporters in reply
to a question.
Defending the change in stand by the BJP, which has firmly
maintained that its position on the FDI issue was "non-
negotiable", party leader Sushma Swaraj said that one could
always revise one`s opinion with time.
"There is no bar against wisdom...," she said.
Jaitley said, "In the 2004 elections there was no BJP
manifesto but a vision document. In that also the BJP promised
FDI in structured retail with a caveat that there will be no
FDI in retail. However, the NDA manifesto (of 2004) promised
FDI in retail."
This position was abandoned in 2009 elections when the
BJP manifesto, authored by Murli Manohar Joshi, categorically
said no FDI in retail would be allowed, ostensibly as the
party was aggressively wooing small and medium traders.
NDA did not come out with a separate manifesto in these
polls, Jaitley said.