BJP sticks to opposition to FDI policy

On the eve of an all-party meet convened by the government to end the FDI deadlock, BJP on Tuesday stuck to its opposition to the policy.

Last Updated: Dec 06, 2011, 18:30 PM IST

New Delhi: On the eve of an all-party meet
convened by the government to end the FDI deadlock in
Parliament, BJP on Tuesday stuck to its opposition to the policy
saying it would harm the interest of farmers, small retailers
as well as consumers.

Addressing a party programme here, Leader of the
Opposition in Rajya Sabha Arun Jaitley blamed Congress
President Sonia Gandhi and her son Rahul for the FDI decision.
"Everybody is well aware with whom power lies in the
Congress. People have not heard the views of the Congress
chief and the party general secretary whom that party
considers its future leader," Jaitley said.

He insisted that BJP has always been in favour of reforms
provided these are for the welfare of the people and allowing
51 per cent retail in FDI is not one of them.

"But all changes are not reforms. Some take us backwards,"
Jaitley said.

Though the BJP leader accepted that the country`s economy
was in a bad shape and there was need for some effective
measures, he maintained that allowing 51 per cent FDI in
multi-brand retail was not the solution.

"The economy today is really a cause for concern. The
rupee has been sliding. It has weakened. Nobody knows how much
further it will slide... After 1991 the foreign investors felt
India was an attractive destination for investment but not
now. Even our own capitalists have now started moving out and
investing abroad," Jaitley said.

Parliament has been adjourned repeatedly for over a week
on the FDI issue.

Jaitley said that before allowing FDI in multi-sector
retail, the government should have strengthened the
manufacturing sector. Citing the example of China, he argued
that Chinese goods were likely to flood the market as
multinationals like Walmart buy from places where the goods
are available at cheap rates.

He warned that if FDI in retail is allowed now, India
would end up producing a generation of only sales girls and
Hinting at the government having succumbed to
international pressure, the BJP leader said even during the
NDA regime there had been proposals from the US and European
Union to open up the economy to FDI in retail.

"Even some within the government said we should allow FDI
in retail but we refused," Jaitley said.

He said Congress, which is now all for FDI in retail, used
to call it anti-national when NDA was in power. "Congress
leader Kamal Nath had said several times that we will not
allow FDI in retail," he said.

Jaitley claimed that 4-5 crore families were involved in
multi-brand retail and their interest should be protected.

"In New York, there are no Walmart stores inside the city
... They say the day Walmart is opened in New York, the mayor
will have to leave his post," he said.

Jaitley maintained that India should not compare its case
to that of the US as the latter gives up to $400 billion to
its farmers.

The BJP leader alleged that companies like Walmart aim to
"sweep aside" the competition by initially selling articles at
low rates but push up prices when their monopoly is

"A fragmented market is always good for the consumer,"
Jaitley said.