The Communist Party of India (Marxist) has rejected the government's plan to put on hold the Union Cabinet decision to allow 51 per cent Foreign Direct Investment in multi-brand retail. It said nothing short of a rollback was acceptable.

“The government has now informed us about keeping the decision in abeyance. It is an obvious ploy to keep it [in abeyance] till the end of the winter session [of Parliament]…we want complete cancellation of this policy…” general secretary Prakash Karat said, releasing a party publication, ‘Oppose FDI in Retail, Defend Indian Livelihoods,' here on Tuesday.

Mr. Karat said it would be a mistake to judge the issue as one limited to the current session of Parliament; the very fact that all major parties opposed to the United Progressive Alliance, and some within the ruling coalition, had joined hands showed that the struggle was not yet over.

Disagreeing with the government's claim about the prerogative of the Executive to take a policy decision, he said any decision could be brought to Parliament for scrutiny, and the Opposition had the right to bring an adjournment motion and have it voted upon.

“This is being considered anti-democratic, anti-parliamentary…”

Asked about his party's stand in Parliament on Wednesday, when both Houses will reconvene after a short break, Mr. Karat said a final decision would be taken after hearing out the government (at the all-party meeting scheduled for the same day).

Instead of creating 10 million jobs over three years, as claimed by the government, the foreign direct investment would wipe out those working in the unorganised sector.

“In the backdrop of huge unemployment and under-employment persisting in India, small-scale retailing still provides livelihood security to around 20 million urban workers and 12 million rural workers. Their displacement would further worsen the unemployment scenario,” the booklet said, arguing for the need to regulate organised retail trade.

The average size of a Wal-Mart store in the United States is about 10800 square feet, employing 225 people, he said, and the government's claim of protection for small traders was specious since a majority of them operated in the 53 cities with a population of 10 lakh and above, which qualified for the FDI in retail.

He said the investment limit of $100 million (Rs. 500 cr.) set by the government was “peanuts” and “small change” for multi-national retail majors like Wal-Mart, whose turnover stood at $400 billion.

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