The Bharatiya Janata Party on Thursday resolved to force the Manmohan government to roll back its decision to open up multibrand retail to foreign companies, saying it would ‘destroy the country’s retail trade’.
The two-day National Council meet here was dominated by high-pitched speeches attacking the UPA for its ‘failure’ on all fronts and ‘unprecedented corruption’.
A review of the economic situation and later adoption of an economic resolution, besides the 60-minute inaugural speech of party president Nitin Gadkari, were the dominant agenda for the day.
The sum and substance of the resolution is that the Congress has ‘ruined’ the economy.
It contended that Dr. Singh, who in his recent address to the nation talked of the danger of the country slipping back to the 1991 crisis if hard decisions were not taken, could not escape responsibility for the situation as he had been at the helm of affairs for the last eight years.
“However, ironically, what the Prime Minister has failed to mention is that prior to the situation in 1991, the Congress had ruled the country for nine years. Similarly, post-2004, when the economy was in the pink of its health, the Congress has been governing the country for over eight years consecutively. Therefore, facts clearly point to the complete responsibility and accountability on the part of the Congress in general and the Prime Minister in particular for bringing the nation’s economic situation to such a position of crisis,” the BJP said.
The BJP sought to make a distinction between economic reforms in the ‘national’ interest, which, it said it would favour, and those taken under diktats of western powers.
“The BJP is committed to reforms which are in the national interest. Reforms are not what western powers define them to be ... It is unfortunate that we accept the definition foreign nations give to reforms,” Leader of the Opposition in the Rajya Sabha Arun Jaitley said while moving the resolution.
The principal Opposition said real reforms were needed in governance to bring in efficiency and transparency.
“We need FDI in strategic sectors and high-end technology. We should also encourage FDI in infrastructure which is facing a huge capital crunch. The government of the day has failed to arrange large public investments in these sectors.”
Mr. Gadkari targeted Congress president Sonia Gandhi and Dr. Singh for the current state of affairs of the country and asserted that the days of the UPA were numbered.
“The country may be heading for a constitutional crisis. The unstable Congress-led government is thrusting upon the people decisions on certain vital issues with wider ramifications without the prior approval of Parliament.”
Mr. Gadkari said the Congress-led UPA government was responsible for “corruption of mammoth proportion.” After the Rs. 76,000-crore Commonwealth Games scam, there was the 2G scam of Rs. 1,76,000 crore. The CAG reports (Power, Coal and Civil Aviation) had estimated the scams amounting to Rs. 4, 80,000 crore, the BJP chief claimed.
“Coupled with black money to the tune of 21 lakh crore stashed [away] in Swiss Banks, the figure will be nearly 25-lakh crore.”
Bidding through auction
Separately, reacting to the Supreme Court judgment on allocation of natural resources, Mr. Jaitley said competitive bidding through auction was the only method to ensure fair play as any discretionary quota was likely to open the floodgates of corruption.
“Water and air cannot be auctioned as they are critical for life support. The BJP is clear that fair criteria should be adopted for allocation of natural resources. Competitive bidding should be the practice in allocating natural resources for commercial use.”