“When the government is unable to touch the 272 figure in LS on FDI vote, a lot is questionable”
Leader of Opposition in the Rajya Sabha Arun Jaitley on Thursday said that the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) was a “lame duck” government as it could not touch the 272 (threshold) figure in the Lok Sabha in the vote against the policy on FDI in multi-brand retail.
Appealing to the government to withdraw the policy, he urged Parliamentarians to vote against it.
Participating in the discussion on the Opposition motion against FDI in the Rajya Sabha, he said: “You are a lame duck government. When the government is not able to touch the 272 figure in the Lok Sabha, then a lot is questionable. To reach this number, one has to take assistance from many and reach to some understandings. You are dependent on support which is very costly and every day you have to pay a price for that support. This is a worrying situation.”
Even allies disagree
Mr. Jaitley said there were lot of parties, some supporting UPA from outside and even its own allies such as the Nationalist Congress Party and the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam which are openly opposed to FDI in retail but because of political compulsions they are backing the government.
Criticising the retail FDI policy, he asked if the definition of economic reforms would now be dictated by Western countries. “Every change is not reform; some of that can be counter-reform,” he said.
Observing that FDI will not benefit local shops, he said: “Domestic retails source their product domestically whereas international retails source their products internationally where the products are the cheapest. International retailers reduce employment, not add to it.”
Nation of traders
Mr. Jaitley said pushing the policy without manufacturing sector reforms involving cheaper loans, low-cost utilities, power availability and proper infrastructure and trade facilitation would have a two-fold effect: “First, we will have retail stores owned by Europeans and Americans selling Chinese products and India would be a nation of sales boys and girls. Secondly, with India’s manufacturing in doldrums, the danger of India being a nation of traders would stare us in the face. All stores will be of global companies and we will become consumers of international products.”
Countering the arguments, put forth by Law Minister Ashwini Kumar, Mr. Jaitley said retail FDI would lead to mass-scale loss and displacement of jobs.