SP, Left and JD(S) ask govt to block retail FDI
Jubilation for the victory in the Presidential election was a shortlived event for the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government as the Samajwadi Party (SP), Left parties and Janata Dal-S (JD-S), in an important development, came together to ask Prime Minister Manmohan Singh not to open up retail trade to foreign direct investment (FDI).
In a letter the parties said: “We urge the government not to open up the retail trade to FDI any further. Political parties across the spectrum are opposed to this move. Many state governments have also stated their opposition.
In the absence of a wide-ranging consensus, we request you not to proceed with this decision.” The letter was signed by Mulayam Singh Yadav (SP), Prakash Karat (CPM), S Sudhakar Reddy (CPI), Danish Ali (JD-S), Debabrata Biswas (Forward Block) and Abani Roy (RSP).
The letter to the prime minister comes days after Commerce Minister Anand Sharma said many chief ministers were in favour of FDI in multi-brand retail and that the government would soon take a decision.
The government had allowed FDI in single brand retailing but had suspended the decision to allow such investment in multi-brand retailing due to opposition from several parties, including the UPA allies.
The SP and JD-S support the government from outside.The letter quoted media reports that the government was planning to revive the decision to allow FDI in multi-brand retail trade.
It said the retail sector was the second largest employer in the country after agriculture, employing over four crore people.“Most of these are small unorganised or self-employed retailers. Entry of MNC supermarket and hypermarket chains would cause severe displacement of these small and unorganised shopkeepers and traders. The entry of Wal-Mart supermarket chain would have a disastrous impact,” the letter said.
According to the letter, the employment growth had slowed down according to the National Sample Survey data of 2009-10 and the entry of foreign supermarkets would further aggravate the employment situation.With Anna Hazare and Baba Ramdev set to restart their agitation against corruption and black money and Sharad Pawar’s Nationalist Congress Party arraigned against it, the letter from these parties came as a shocker to a beleaguered UPA government which was hopeful of taking all parties along in its move to revive the proposal of foreign direct investment in multi-brand retail.The SP, CPM and JD (S) had supported UPA candidate Pranab Mukherjee in the Presidential poll.