New Delhi: Opening the big debate on the UPA government’s decision to allow the FDI in the multi-brand retail, Leader of Opposition in Lok Sabha Sushma Swaraj on Tuesday slammed the Centre for taking the decision unilaterally.
“Government went back on its promise to bring consensus on the FDI issue. The government had in the last session promised us that the FDI decision will remain suspended till a consensus is reached on the same,” the BJP leader said.
Attempting to corner the government in Lok Sabha, Swaraj said, “Despite assurances from President Pranab Mukerjee, the then Finance Minister, the government did not even attempt to bring consensus on FDI in retail. No political party was contacted before taking a decision."
Referring to the term ‘predatory pricing’, the BJP leader said, “FDI in multi-brand retail will encourage monopolistic tendencies.” Driving her point home, Swaraj said, ‘Multinational retail chains force farmers to sell their produce below cost of production.”
“Big retailers pay farmers less. They pay farmers less, employees less, but keep high profits. All over the world, large supermarkets do this," Sushma said. She also said that even McDonalds does not take potatoes from Indian farmers.
"Government should ask McDonalds to tell from where it source potatoes for its fries from. McDonalds never buys potatoes from local Indian farmers, they say the size of potatoes is very small here," Sushma Swaraj said.
Amid continuous disruption from the ruling side, Swaraj said that the consumer will lose if there is FDI in retail as the market will shrink to a few players.
“Competition is in the interest of consumers, monopoly is not," Swaraj argued.
Swaraj also ridiculed the government’s claim that the FDI decision will open job opportunities by saying, “The government got its facts wrong. Government claims FDI will give more jobs, will give direct employment to 40 lakh people. According to the Walmart data we have, a Walmart store has a maximum of 214 employees per store. The data given by the government is questionable."
She maintained that Walmart has been a flop show in United States. If we go by the government data then Walmart needs 36,000 stores to create 40 lakh jobs.”
If the FDI decision is implemented in India, then Indian market will be flooded with Chinese products, she argued, claiming, “China will see growth in manufacturing and employment.”
There was uproar in the Lok Sabha after Swaraj spoke about sugarcane farmers during the FDI debate. Swaraj said, "Government talks of reducing the role of middlemen. In the sugar industry, there are no middlemen involved. Sugarcane farmers are still suffering, no one is paying them, slips are given to them, We all know the politics of sugarcane."
However,Swaraj Swaraj concluded the debate by saying "hum aapko hara ke jeetna nahin chahte, hum aapko mana ke jeetna chahte (We don`t want the rollback by defeating you. We want the rollback by convincing you)."
Ahead of the big debate on the Centre’s decision to allow the FDI in the multi-brand retail, the main opposition BJP and the Left demanded a separate debate and voting on FDI in retail and amendments to notification issued under FEMA.
However, the demand was rejected by the Speaker.
The debate on FDI started at 2 pm in Lok Sabha, which was adjourned after Congress members raised the issue of Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi allegedly favouring a foreign company in a gas exploration project.
BJP leader Sushma Swaraj and Communist Party of India (Marxist) MP Khagen Das moved the motion, which read - "This House recommends to the government to immediately withdraw its decision to allow 51 percent FDI in multi-brand retail trade."
Earlier, the Rajya Sabha was also disrupted over differences on the bill for reservation in job promotions as soon as the house met at 11 am.
Ahead of the vote, the UPA government expressed confidence that it will survive the opposition led motion against it.
In a bid to increase pressure on the UPA government for not fulfilling its promise on granting statehood to the Telangana region, at least nine Telangana MPs today decided to boycott the proceedings in Parliament.
On expected lines, the Trinamool Congresas today reiterated that it will vote against FDI in retail in Parliament.
While the government expressed its readiness for the FDI debate, “friendly parties” like BSP and SP kept their cards close to their chest and a united opposition also looked set to corner the ruling coalition on the issue.
The debate comes days after the UPA government agreed to hold a discussion in Lok Sabha on the issue under rule 184 and under Rule 168 in Rajya Sabha, both entailing vote.
Though, the UPA government is confident of sailing through in the lower house, it does not have the required numbers in the Rajya Sabha, which was adjourned till noon soon after it assembled today.
Congress has made all out efforts to bring its constituents and outside supports on board, on the other hand, the entire BJP-led NDA is united in opposing the FDI decision.
The Left parties, AIADMK, Biju Janata Dal (BJD), Asom Gana Parishad (AGP) and some other parties are also against the decision.
The Prime Minister yesterday urged the AIADMK to reconsider its opposition to the policy in national interest. This may, however, upset the UPA`s southern ally DMK, which has eventually come around to vote for the government despite their opposition.
UPA’s crisis managers have also worked overtime to garner crucial support from regional parties like SP and BSP.
The role of the SP and the BSP, which support the Congress-led UPA government from outside, would be crucial in the Rajya Sabha.
The SP led by Mulayam Singh Yadav is irked over what it feels is the UPA`s support for reservation for Dalits and tribals in job promotions, an idea backed by its archrival, the BSP.
The Congress had earlier issued a whip to all its members asking them to be present in the Lok Sabha on December 4 and 5 for the crucial debate and vote on FDI in retail.
Of the total 245 members in the Rajya Sabha, the UPA has a strength of 90. With 27 outside supporters from the BSP, SP, Lok Janshakti Party and the Rashtriya Janata Dal, the government tally stands at 117 as against the magical 123 figure for majority.
The opposition claims the support of 110 members. Besides, there are seven independents, five from smaller parties and 10 nominated.
With Agency Inputs