Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav on Saturday made it loud and clear that he will not allow foreign direct investment in retail in any corner of the country's most populous state.
Addressing a press conference on the completion of six months of his government, he, however, clearly indicated that Samajwadi Party had no intention to topple the UPA government on the issue.
"The Samajwadi Party is totally opposed to FDI in retail and I will not allow any multi-national to open their retail stores in any part of Uttar Pradesh," declared the 38-year-old chief minister.
"While the final decision on the issue would rest on party president Mulayam Singh Yadav, let me tell you that our support to the UPA was extended essentially to keep communal forces at bay."
When a media person sought to know if the question of FDI in retail was discussed during the recent visit by the United States Ambassador and the British High Commissioner, Akhilesh shot back, "Well that was just a courtesy call; issues like FDI in retail did not figure in our talks."
He, however, hastened to add, "The two envoys did express their intention to bring in foreign investments in UP. I am not against FDI as such; we will welcome FDI in infrastructure, power or roads, but we will under no circumstances allow FDI to harm the interests of farmers or the traditional traders."
Referring to the recent steep hike in diesel price, he claimed that his party had always been opposed to such a hike, 'because it seriously affects the interests of farmers'.
Yet he remained non-committal on the question of withdrawal of support to the UPA government on this issue. He also parried questions on the possibility of his government bringing down the rate of VAT on diesel with a view to reducing the impact of the Centre's hike.
Even as he proudly announced the achievements of his six-month old government, he did not hesitate to admit that much was desired to be done on the law and order front.
"I do not deny that our police administration has been in shambles. It is time that the police pulls up its socks or be ready to face tough action," he said.
He however sought to point out, "But you cannot deny that much of the bad governance was inherited from the previous regime and it will take time to mend the system; but let me assure you that we will make the desired difference."
Asked to comment on the unabated rise in corruption at various levels in the government, he went on to emphasise, "Yes, corruption has been eating into the system and we are committed to stamping it out by taking stern action against the corrupt."
And when a journalist sought to know why he had failed to keep his word about initiating measures against the much-touted corrupt practices during the Mayawati regime, Akhilesh shot back, "The Lokayukta was already probing some of the cases and I can assure you that action will follow against all those involved in corrupt practices during that period."