The BJP has denied that its stand on Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) in retail has changed. Speaking to CNN-IBN's Karan Thapar on on his programme “Devil's Advocate”, senior BJP leader Arun Jaitley said “I can tell you as far as FDI in retail in concerned, the BJP has genuine concerns against this and I don't think its quite likely that the policy is going to be changed”. He, however, added: “I don't know what happens when we implement manufacturing sector reforms and low cost products are available. No policy is a policy for the next hundred years. ”
Mr Jaitley's statement, “As far as the present is concerned its quite unlikely that the BJP will change”, came close on the heels of BJP's Prime Ministerial Candidate Narendra Modi's address to traders here on Thursday endorsing FDI in retail, “don't be scared of the challenges of big retail, use the opportunities of e-commerce”. Until Mr. Modi signalled otherwise on Thursday the BJP had been opposed to the UPA Government's policy of FDI in retail and had said that if elected to power at the Centre it will reverse the policy.
Another UPA Government's policy proposal that the BJP-ruled states, Gujarat and Madhya Pradesh, have been consistently blocking is the Goods and Services Tax (GST). Making another U-turn on Thursday, Mr. Modi pushed for the GST as well: "The BJP is in favour of the GST. IT connectivity is a prerequisite for the implementation of GST" .
Against the backdrop of speculation about Narendra Modi's comments suggesting a rethink on the FDI policy, BJP today said their opposition to FDI in retail will not change.
On the programme, Mr. Jaitley also admitted that the BJP was consciously trying to woo the Muslim community ahead of elections: “There is nothing wrong in it. ... It's an appeal being made”.