BJP allies not amused by retail FDI move

Swadeshi Jagran Manch says decision not in nation’s interest; traders in panic

Updated - January 12, 2018 12:38 am IST

Published - January 11, 2018 09:42 pm IST - New Delhi:

A day after the Government allowed 100% Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) in Single Brand Retail Trade (SBRT) through automatic route, the ruling BJP-led NDA is facing opposition from within.

The Swadeshi Jagran Manch (SJM), an ideological affiliate of the BJP, said the decision was against “the interest of the country” and called upon the people to resist such decisions.

The apex body of traders, the Confederation of All India Traders (CAIT), said traders representing different business verticals were meeting next Tuesday to chalk out a future course of action as the traders’ body believed the move would hurt the domestic manufacturing sector, the ‘Make In India’ initiative and small traders.

To be held in Delhi, the meeting would be attended by associations of hawkers, transporters, small industries, consumers, self-employed groups, women entrepreneurs and even farmers’ bodies.

“It is rather more sad that the set of people making forceful arguments against FDI in retail from 2010 to 2014, became instrumental in bringing FDI in retail this time," said B.C. Bhartia, national president of CAIT.

Calling it as the first step towards opening up Multiple Brand Retail Trade (MBRT), CAIT said the decision will “open the floodgates for multinational companies to overpower Indian retail trade and will have a vital bearing on livelihood of crores of small businesses in the country.”

National Convenor of the SJM Ashwani Mahajan said, “More worrisome is the decision to set off the condition of mandatory sourcing requirement of 30% of purchases from India for five years after the opening of the first store by the foreign company. As a result of this decision foreign companies would get freedom of procuring the products from anywhere in the globe.”

In 2010, when the UPA government had announced its FDI policy including its decision to open up the retail sector, the traders’ body had worked closely with the BJP to oppose the UPA.

Not only do traders form BJP’s core supporters, prominent members of the CAIT have been active member supporters of the party.

But with many of them angry with the latest decision, the Congress is eyeing an opportunity to reach out to BJP’s traditional voters.

“This is in a sense the third bullet after demonetisation and GST. Traders were already facing the brunt of these decision and now the government has added one more. Small traders are biggest employment provider in India but this will accelerate unemployment,” said Ajay Maken, the Delhi Congress chief who had been at the forefront of anti-note ban and GST protests.

In its 2014 manifesto, the BJP had said that “barring the MBRT sector, FDI will be allowed in sectors wherever needed for job and asset creation, infrastructure and acquisition of niche technology and specialised expertise.” However, after it came to power at the Centre, the prohibition on FDI in MBRT has only been a de facto one as the consolidated FDI policy even now has retained on paper the UPA’s decision to permit 51% FDI in MBRT through the approval route.

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