Hardening their stand against Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) in retail trade, Left parties on Monday said their opposition to the government’s decision on the issue would not end with a vote in Parliament — it would continue until the policy is stalled.
A discussion on FDI will begin in the Lok Sabha on Tuesday and culminate with a voting on Wednesday under Rule 184. The matter will be debated and put to vote in the Rajya Sabha on December 6 and 7.
Speaking at a convention against FDI in multi-brand retail Trade, leaders of four Left parties virtually asked the government to prepare itself for a second round of battle on the amendments to the Foreign Exchange Management Act (FEMA).
Communist Party of India (Marxist) general secretary Prakash Karat said the issue of FDI in retail trade would not end with the vote in Parliament. “All Opposition parties are opposed to the policy and even some United Progressive Alliance allies have reservations on the issue,” he noted.
“If all the parties which are opposed to FDI vote against the government, then it means Parliament is against the policy,” he said adding that the battle would spill over to the streets. If the government won in Parliament, then people would have to prevent any foreign retail outlet from opening in the country.
The Left parties were also critical of the Samajwadi Party and the Bahujan Samaj Party, which have not made clear their stand on vote against FDI in retail in both Parliament, alleging that the government appears to have “managed” votes through “wholesale trading.”
Communist Party of India leader A.B. Bardhan said one would have to wait and watch “how many people would be bought” by the government to win the vote in Parliament, while criticising the non-committal approach of the SP and the BSP, “which oppose the FDI outside Parliament,” but are not clear on the vote.
“Let us see what Mulayam and Mayawati do. Mayawati says she is opposed to the policy and Mulayam even came to jail with us but only in Parliament we will be able to see what they do,” he said.
Accusing the government of delaying voting for a week to “arrange votes,” CPI(M) MP Sitaram Yechury claimed that if parties such as the SP, Telugu Desam Party and Janata Dal (Secular), who were with them on the streets to protest, also voted against FDI, the government would be defeated. Left parties would demand voting on amendment to FEMA required to operationalise the policy.
Mr. Karat said the UPA did not implement the policy of allowing FDI in retail trade during 2004-2009 because Left parties “were dead opposed” to it and stalled it.
D. Raja of the CPI said the government’s arguments that FDI was required to overcome huge financial deficit was proof of the government’s failure in managing economy. “We cannot allow handing over of our economy into foreign hands,” he said.
Revolutionary Socialist Party chief T.J. Chandrachoodan described parties such as the SP and BSP as “hypocritical” on the FDI issue, and asked them to come clean on the vote.
All India Forward Block chief Debabrata Biswas too asked these parties to make their stand clear on the issue.