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'Pathetic attempt' by PM to defend FDI in retail: BJP

September 29, 2012 21:31 IST

The Bharatiya Janata Party on Saturday refused to accept Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's contention -- that no international pressure was behind the decision to allow FDI in multi-brand retail -- and alleged that he has done a U-turn on his own stance earlier.

"It is strange and it is time the prime minister clarifies this. In 2002 and 2004, he had spoken against FDI in multi-brand retail. He has taken a U-turn somewhere between 2004 and 2010," BJP spokesperson Nirmala Sitharaman said.

She pointed out that in November 2011, the government had assured that it would not take any step on FDI in multi-brand retail unless all consultations with all stakeholders have been done.

"Have all consultations been done, Mr prime minister? How is it that you have changed your mind and brought this FDI in multi-brand retail? Where has that assurance gone today? And how has this U-turn come about," Sitharaman said.

She maintained that in 2002, Dr Singh had assured the association of national traders in Mumbai that he was against FDI in multi-brand retail.

Alleging that there seems to be an "overnight change" in Dr Singh's stand and that this appears to have come under pressure from the United States, the BJP leader said, "If this is not being done under pressure, what explains Hillary Clinton meeting Mamata Banerjee in the context of FDI in retail?"

She demanded that government clarify its stand on this.

"Do we have a precedent where a foreign secretary from some other country comes over and directly interacts with a chief minister, who just a few days before had objected to FDI in multi-brand retail," she said.

BJP stated that Dr Singh owes an explanation about the compulsions under which FDI in multi-brand retail was being allowed.

BJP maintained that the country cannot be misled into believing that multinationals like Walmart are coming here to build cold chain links, provide last-mile connectivity or bring benefits to small traders and farmers.

"Having procured the international market at a cheaper rate, they are coming to utilise our domestic consumers. Are we throwing open the whole system? We will not offer any protection to the self-employed people of this country," Sitharaman said.

The Opposition asked the prime minister not to hurry with this decision.

BJP Member of Parliament and party secretary Balbir Punj alleged that though it is clear that Dr Singh is working under US pressure, he is making a "pathetic attempt" to deny it.

"It is a pathetic attempt by the prime minister to deny something which is so obvious and glaring. It is a sad day for the country that the prime minister of India has to deny that he is not working under foreign pressure and he does not sound convincing," Punj said.

He alleged that Dr Singh had staked his prestige and the existence of his government for the India-United States nuclear deal and has now gone ahead with FDI in multi-brand retail.

"In the process, he has gone back on the solemn assurance which the government had given to the country, through a statement in Parliament by the then Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee,  that no decision will be taken on FDI in multi-brand retail without taking all stakeholders on board," Punj said.

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