Congress gives wholesale support to PM on retail FDI

Last Updated 30 November 2011, 19:11 IST

"There is no empirical evidence to support the BJP's opposition to the (foreign direct investment) FDI issue," Congress spokesperson Manish Tewari told reporters.The Left parties' opposition to the FDI in retail is "ideological" and the BJP is being "opportunistic" in opposing the move, Tewari said.

"If FDI in retail is bad for India, why did China and Vietnam permit it?" he asked.  He also asked the BJP to explain why the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government headed by it advocated opening up retail sector to FDI in 2002.

Supporting Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's view, the Congress spokesperson said foreign equity in retail was good for the country. "There is no confusion within the party on the issue," he said, dismissing the notion that the party was divided on allowing foreign retailers to open their shops in India.

The cabinet decision last Thursday allows 51 percent foreign direct investment (FDI) in multi-brand retail and 100 percent in single-brand retail. Manmohan Singh on Tuesday rejected the opposition calls for revoking the decision, saying the step was taken in the interest of the nation and would benefit small traders and farmers.
Tewari said: "The prime minister has spoken his mind. The party supports his view."

The move is also being opposed by some key allies of the Congress in the ruling United Progressive Alliance (UPA), which has caused a major concern for the government.

Reaching out to the DMK and the Trinamool Congress, the prime minister and the Congress have been trying to explain to them the advantages of the FDI in retail.  "We are talking to the allies. We will allay their fears and hope a constructive solution would be found," Tewari said.

The severe opposition to the move has led to a logjam in parliament which did not run for the seventh consecutive day Wednesday. Tewari said the Congress was not afraid of debating the issue in parliament under a rule that entails voting. "If that had been the case, the government would not have accepted an adjournment motion last week on black money moved by the BJP."

"The main question is: are we going to debate all the issues under adjournment motions?" Tewari asked. In reference to party's Uttar Pradesh MP Sanjay Singh asking the government to review the decision, Tewari said: "We do not comment on individuals."

(Published 30 November 2011, 14:10 IST)

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