New Delhi: In the face of stiff opposition
in Parliament to FDI in retail, Commerce and Industry Minister
Anand Sharma on Monday sought to reach out to MPs and state Chief
Ministers and appealed to them to rise above "petty"
partisanship on the issue.
"I felt it is my duty to dispel some apprehensions
expressed by certain political parties," he said in his letter
to members of both the Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha.
The letter was sent to senior BJP leaders Sushma Swaraj
and Arun Jaitley, CPI(M) Member of Parliament Sitaram Yechuri,
RJD party chief Lalu Prasad Yadav, Bihar Chief Minister Nitish
Kumar, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee and Odisha
Chief Minister Navin Patnaik, among others.
The parties should rise above "petty" partisanship and
strengthen Indian political systems, he said, adding that wide
consultations were held before the decision was taken.
The government has come under attack on allowing 51 per
cent foreign direct investment (FDI) in the multi-brand retail
sector dominated by small-size kirana stores to attract global
giants like Wal-Mart to open stores in India.
Both the Opposition and UPA allies Trinamool Congress and
DMK have demanded a roll-back of the decision, which was taken
by the Union Cabinet on November 24.
Sharma said, "In formulating this policy, we were
conscious of the livelihood concerns of millions of small
Studies on the global experience with foreign investment
in multi-brand retail revealed that even in developing
countries such as China, Brazil, Argentina, Singapore,
Indonesia and Thailand, local retailers have found innovative
ways to co-exist with organised retail chains.
Sharma said the government was also mindful of ensuring
food security for the poorest of the poor, retaining the first
right to procurement of foodgrains. The first right would rest
with the government public distribution system, he said.
On concerns over the predatory pricing that may be
resorted to by multi-national retailers, he said the
Competition Commission would ensure that such practices are
"I have specially discussed the matter with the Chairman
of the Competition Commission to bring in a regulator... to
ensure necessary checks and balances," he said.