Trinamool, Left join hands to slam FDI in defence, railways

Bitter rivals Trinamool Congress and Left parties joined hands in Rajya Sabha to target the government over FDI in Defence and Railways, alleging that the decision was taken in a "hurry" and amounted to "selling" the country`s interests.

PTI| Last Updated: Aug 07, 2014, 17:08 PM IST

New Delhi: Bitter rivals Trinamool Congress and Left parties on Thursday joined hands in Rajya Sabha to target the government over FDI in Defence and Railways, alleging that the decision was taken in a "hurry" and amounted to "selling" the country`s interests.

The opposition to the decision came a day after the Union Cabinet cleared 100 percent FDI in Railways and 49 percent FDI in Defence.

Derek O`Brien (TMC) said the issue was serious and questioned its timing saying the government was in a hurry to implement it ahead of Prime Minister Narendra Modi`s proposed visit to United States in September.

Soon after the House assembled, Derek raised the issue but Chairman Hamid Ansari said the matter could be taken up later.

Finance and Defence Minister Arun Jaitley told him that the issue was discussed in the House earlier at the time of General and Railway Budget and the Cabinet had only taken a formal decision now.
The growing bonhomie between the two rival parties was evident when Sitaram Yechury (CPI-M) was seen drawing the attention of the Chair for taking up the TMC leader`s notice for suspension of Question Hour for raising the issue.

"What has happened in the last 10 days in allowing FDI is a very serious issue. 100 pc FDI has been allowed in Railways and 49 pc in Defence. The timing of it and the way it has happened leaves a lot to be desired," O`Brien said.

Making his stand clear against FDI, the TMC member said, "This is not the way to go about. FDI is not the panacea of all problems. FDI is not Foreign Direct Investment, it is Foreign Direct Interference, it is Foreign Direct Intrusion."
Charging the government with being in a hurry to go ahead with the decision, he said, "They want to catch the plane to USA in September to get FDI. Some bags are packed and there is hurry to bring FDI in Railways and Defence. Say no to FDI in Insurance, Defence and Railways. Don`t sell our country."

D Raja (CPI) and P Rajeeve (CPI-M) joined the TMC member in opposing the decision. "We strongly protest FDI in Railways, Insurance and defence sector," Rajeeve said.

O`Brien also questioned the government on the status of FDI in insurance, saying a majority of members in the Upper House want the Bill in this regard to be sent to a Select Committee.

Alleging "hurry" in bringing FDI in railways, defence and insurance, he said the government is starting "auction" and "sale" of India.

He said the previous government was playing a relay on FDI, saying "they were in 4th gear, but this government is in 5th gear and are in more hurry than the last one."

He pointed out that 32 states in the United States do not allow FDI in insurance and said in 2008 it bailed out private insurance company AIG with USD 80 billion.

Government has allowed increase of FDI from 26 percent to 49 percent in insurance, 100 percent FDI in railways and 49 percent FDI in defence sector.

The government has brought amendments in the Insurance Bill pending in Parliament and the Union Cabinet last night cleared a proposal to allow 49 pc FDI in defence and up to 100 pc FDI in railways.