Party opposed to FDI in retail trade, higher education and mining

The Communist Party of India (Marxist) on Sunday re-emphasised its stand on foreign direct investment (FDI) and did not accept the U.S. officials' interpretation of conversations with Marxist leaders on the issue over the past few years.

Responding to news reports on the basis of secret American diplomatic cables published by WikiLeaks, CPI(M) general secretary Prakash Karat said at a press conference here, “There are two aspects what factually transpired and observation and interpretation of the U.S. diplomats on these meetings, which need to be taken with a pinch of salt… we need not accept them.”

Mr. Karat said the party's policy on FDI was based on three factors – it should help raise the production capacity, help the country acquire new technology and generate employment.

It was opposed to FDI in sectors such as retail trade, higher education and mining

On reports that the former West Bengal Chief Minister, Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee, favoured FDI in higher education, he said subsequently the party discussed the issue and came out against it. The CPI(M)'s opposition to Foreign Education Providers Bill was the reason why Parliament could not pass it.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh asked the head of U.S retail trade giant WalMart to meet Mr. Bhattacharjee and convince him on FDI in the sector.

But the latter conveyed the party's opposition to opening up of the sector, Mr. Karat said.

As for the former Kerala Chief Minister, V.S. Achutanandan, seeking FDI in information technology, bio-technology and tourism, he said the Left Democratic Front manifesto talked of industrial development.

“Whether it is Mr. Bhattacharjee or Mr. Achutananandan, we go by our understanding of the party programme,” Mr. Karat said. The CPI(M) took a position on FDI in various sectors as the situation evolved just as it strongly opposed the India-U.S. nuclear deal after the U.S. Congress passed the Henry J. Hyde Act in 2006.

At a meeting on the Iran-Pakistan-India gas pipeline, he said, the Americans were told the project was in New Delhi's interest and sought to know why Washington was interfering and trying to stop it.

On the Lokpal Bill, he said the party wanted a strong and effective institution to check corruption and hoped the government would not go back on it.

More In: National | News | States