NDA had readied Cabinet note favouring FDI in retail: Sharma



New Delhi: Seeking to punch holes in BJP's opposition to allowing Foreign Direct Investment in multi-brand retail, Union Commerce Minister Anand Sharma on Monday said the NDA government had readied a Cabinet note favouring 100 percent FDI in the sector.

Addressing a gathering of Congress supporters here, Sharma lambasted the BJP for trying to "mislead" the country on the issue and asserted that UPA government had taken the decision with "conviction" and "clarity" and there will not be any rethink on it.

"When it (BJP) was in power, a cabinet note was prepared. I had urged repeatedly that let the Parliament function. I would have tabled the Cabinet note seeking to allow 100 percent FDI in retail," Sharma said, attacking the BJP on the issue.

To counter the opposition parties, the Congress will organise a "big rally" at Ramlila Maidan here on October 28 which will be addressed by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, party president Sonia Gandhi besides other senior leaders.

Sharma said government has taken the decision to allow 51 per cent FDI in multi-brand retail considering the economic fundamentals and ground realities of the country and BJP's opposition to it reflected the party's "hollowness".

"We have framed the policy considering the ground realities and the social and economic disparities in the country," he said adding, it is people of India who have approved the policy and it has not been brought in under the influence of any other country.

Sharma was addressing a gathering at Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit's residence, which was organised to educate party workers on the issue.

Rejecting criticism that allowing FDI in multi-brand retail will have an adverse impact on small retailers, Sharma said similar apprehensions were raised during prime ministership of Atal Bihari Vajpayee around 12 years back when McDonalds, Pizza Hut and other foreign entities were allowed to set up shops in India.

"Those apprehensions have proved wrong. The country has to move forward. Only the Congress has the will and courage to take the country forward. There is clarity in our thoughts. This is a concrete decision. It will not be changed," he said.

Sharma appealed to the Congress workers to go to people and educate them about the benefits of the policy while "exposing BJP's double standards".

Speaking on the occasion, Dikshit complimented the Centre for bringing such a "forward looking" policy and said her government would implement it with "great enthusiasm".

The Chief Minister said she has been strongly supporting the policy as it will help all the stakeholders, including the farmers and consumers.

"FDI in multi-brand retail will help the country move forward. It will help our economy. But most importantly, it will help the consumers as well as farmers," she said.

Dikshit said 30 per cent of fruits and vegetables go waste due to unavailability of cold storage. The FDI in multi-brand retail will help us build infrastructure that will help in bringing down the prices," she said.

All Delhi Government ministers were present on the occasion.

PTI