On the eve of an all-party meet convened by the government to end the FDI deadlock in Parliament, BJP on Tuesday stuck to its opposition to the policy saying it would harm the interest of farmers, small retailers as well as consumers.
Addressing a party programme here, Leader of the Opposition in Rajya Sabha Arun Jaitley blamed Congress president Sonia Gandhi and her son Rahul for the FDI decision.
“Everybody is well aware with whom power lies in the Congress. People have not heard the views of the Congress chief and the party general secretary whom that party considers its future leader,” Mr. Jaitley said.
He insisted that BJP has always been in favour of reforms provided these are for the welfare of the people and allowing 51 per cent retail in FDI is not one of them.
“But all changes are not reforms. Some take us backwards,” Mr. Jaitley said.
Though the BJP leader accepted that the country’s economy was in a bad shape and there was need for some effective measures, he maintained that allowing 51 per cent FDI in multi-brand retail was not the solution.
“The economy today is really a cause for concern. The rupee has been sliding. It has weakened. Nobody knows how much further it will slide... After 1991 the foreign investors felt India was an attractive destination for investment but not now. Even our own capitalists have now started moving out and investing abroad,” Mr. Jaitley said.
Parliament has been adjourned repeatedly for over a week on the FDI issue.
Mr. Jaitley said that before allowing FDI in multi-sector retail, the government should have strengthened the manufacturing sector. Citing the example of China, he argued that Chinese goods were likely to flood the market as multinationals like Wal-mart buy from places where the goods are available at cheap rates.
He warned that if FDI in retail is allowed now, India would end up producing a generation of only sales girls and boys.
Hinting at the government having succumbed to international pressure, the BJP leader said even during the NDA regime there had been proposals from the US and European Union to open up the economy to FDI in retail.
“Even some within the government said we should allow FDI in retail but we refused,” Mr. Jaitley said.
He said Congress, which is now all for FDI in retail, used to call it anti-national when NDA was in power. “Congress leader Kamal Nath had said several times that we will not allow FDI in retail,” he said.
Mr. Jaitley claimed that 4-5 crore families were involved in multi-brand retail and their interest should be protected.
“In New York, there are no Wal-mart stores inside the city... They say the day Wal-mart is opened in New York, the mayor will have to leave his post,” he said.
Mr. Jaitley maintained that India should not compare its case to that of the US as the latter gives up to $400 billion to its farmers.
The BJP leader alleged that companies like Wal-mart aim to “sweep aside” the competition by initially selling articles at low rates but push up prices when their monopoly is established.
“A fragmented market is always good for the consumer,” Mr. Jaitley said.