A day after the government notified rules to permit FDI in retail, CPI(M) on Friday charged the ruling coalition with taking the “single biggest step” to destroy the livelihood of a large number of people.

“By this policy announcement, Manmohan Singh government has taken the single biggest step of destroying the livelihood of the largest number of people engaged in retail trade in India,” the CPI(M) Politburo said in a statement.

The government has gone ahead with the move “notwithstanding the widespread opposition” to FDI in multi-brand retail trade, the party said, adding it would wage struggles “to get this anti-national decision rescinded”.

CPI(M) said the rules announced by the government were “designed to serve the interests of multinationals” like Wal-Mart, TESCO and Carrefour. The investment floor of $ 100 million or Rs 550 crore was “insignificant” for giant retailers like Wal-Mart which were multi-billion dollar firms.

The restriction that foreign retail outlets should be in cities with over 10 lakh population was also irrelevant because “these are precisely the urban centres which the MNCs want to access as they are the most lucrative segment of the market,” it said.

Furthermore, the rules provide that in states or Union Territories which do not have cities with a population of over 10 lakh, foreign retail outlets could be set up in cities of their choice, the party said.

“That the government is bent upon promoting FDI in retail at the cost of domestic interests is clear from the dilution of the conditions set for FDI in single-brand retail,” it said, adding that the rule for MNCs to mandatorily source 30 per cent of the value of products from small, village and cottage industries has been “diluted”.

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