Left parties to seek another vote : Karat



Patna: Left parties will seek another vote during amendment to FEMA regulations even if UPA wins the one on FDI in Parliament by 'cobbling' up numbers by 'luring' parties opposed to it, CPI-M General Secretary Prakash Karat said on Saturday.

"The UPA government that has allowed FDI in multi retail under pressure of the USA and multinationals is busy cobbling up numbers by luring parties opposed to FDI to win the vote on the issue," Karat said addressing a state-level convention of Left parties on FDI.

"Even if UPA manages to win the vote, the Left Parties would demand another vote in Parliament on amendment of Foreign Exchange Management Act (FEMA) regulations to allow implementation of FDI as suggested by the Supreme Court".

Later, when asked by scribes to comment on Samajwadi Party indicating support to UPA over FDI issue, he said "Let's wait for the voting."

Describing the decision to allow FDI in multi-brand as 'anti-national and anti-people', Karat rubbished the argument of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh that it would create jobs and galvanise the economy.

"The prime minister said arrival of retail giants will create one crore employment annually ... But the fact is that for creating one crore jobs they will deprive around 5 crore people of livelihood," he said.

The convention was a jointly hosted by CPI-M, CPI, CPI-ML and Forward Block strongly opposed to allowing 51 per cent share in FDI in multi-brand retail.

Karat said the experiment of allowing FDI in multi-brand has failed in countries like the USA and Mexico.

"In Mexico international companies engaged in retail business have been accused of paying bribes to administration to bend regulatory laws," he said adding the same was recently seen in India when action was taken against four senior officials of Bharti with whom Walmart would be entering into partnership for multi-brand retail.

Picking holes in the Centre's argument that international stores would be allowed only in 53 cities, including Patna, having a population of over 10 lakh, he said "Indian laws does not permit such restrictions."

Citing an instance, he said in Kerala the CPI-M had recently sought legal opinion on closure of a Reliance store and was told that it cannot be done as per the existing laws.

The CPI-M general secretary said it was also not possible to implement the clause which made it mandatory for multi-brand retail chains to source at least 30 per cent of their products from MSME outlets as per the existing rules of World Trade Organisation (WTO) and the pact India has entered into with many nations.

The UPA government's 'unilateral' decision on FDI in multi-brand retail was due to US pressure and the Left parties would create 'janmat' (peoples movement) against it across the country by holding similar convention in state capitals and other cities.

Alleging that the Manmohan Singh's government appeared to be directed to increasing the gulf between the rich and the poor, CPI veteran A B Bardhan said the government was working to benefit a handful of capitalists at the cost of over 20 crore people, including those engaged in retail business and their families.

Senior CPI-ML leader Rajaram Singh and its central committee member K D Yadav and Forward Block leader Vakil Singh too protested against FDI in multi-brand retail.

Karat and Bardhan flayed also the UPA government's decision to provide cash subsidy for 29 welfare schemes and demanded 35 kg foodgrains at the rate of Rs 2 per kg instead of a 'paltry sum' in cash.

"Under an experiment carried out in a locality of East Delhi, beneficiaries are provided Rs 600 cash to purchase staple foodgrains like rice and wheat from the open market. ... One can imagine how much grains one can buy from the open markets at prices which are skyrocketing everyday," Karat added.

PTI