BJP admits it promised FDI in retail in 2004



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.

PTI