BJP on Saturday said it would strongly oppose the government move to allow FDI in retail sector as it would affect small traders and alluded to the UPA government succumbing to US pressure in changing the policy.

“Along with price rise, unemployment has been increasing in this country. 50 per cent of our population, comprising of small traders, street-vendors and the self-employed sustain themselves through retail businesses. The UPA government wants to deprive them of livelihood by allowing FDI in multi-brand retail,” BJP spokesperson Shahnawaz Hussain said.

BJP will oppose this policy through which the government proposes to allow 100 per cent FDI in multi-brand retail in cities having population above 10 Lakh.

The party has always counted on the support of small traders and feels that neighbourhood store-owners would be adversely affected by the entry of foreign brands like Walmart, Tesco and Carrefour.

“The government should try to build a political consensus on this issue. The Rajya Sabha Standing Committee report had stated that FDI should not be allowed in retail as small shopkeepers would be affected,” Mr. Hussain said.

He alluded to this step being taken under foreign pressure, and mentioned the recent visit of US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to India in this regard.

“There is a suspicion that this government is working under pressure. Whenever some big leader, especially from the U.S., visits India the government forms a bigger committee to over-rule the decision of its Standing Committees,” he said.

A Committee of Secretaries, headed by Cabinet Secretary Ajit Seth, has cleared the proposal to have FDI in retail.

BJP sought to know whether the government had conducted any study on whether FDI in retail will increase or decrease unemployment.

Mr. Hussain insisted that the erstwhile NDA government led by Atal Bihari Vajpayee had started several programmes to generate employment during its tenure.

“The UPA government has been a complete failure in controlling unemployment... In the name of economic reforms this government wants to take away employment for the benefit of the foreign multi-brand companies,” Mr. Hussain said.

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