NCP's Patel contradicts Sibal

A jittery Nationalist Congress Party on Wednesday sought consultation with the Congress before allowing multi-brand retail sector in Maharashtra, where the two parties share power.

Though the NCP is the lone major ally of the Congress to support the United Progressive Alliance government’s move to allow foreign capital in multi-brand retail, its senior leader and Heavy Industries Minister Praful Patel contradicted his colleague in the Union Cabinet Kapil Sibal’s remark that the Maharashtra government had agreed with the Centre on the issue.

Taking part in the debate on FDI in the Lok Sabha, Patel said the Maharashtra government could take a call on the issue only when the panel set up for coordination between Congress and the NCP in the state had a discussion.

Patel, however, supported the government’s policy and said that after KFC and McDonald’s opened outlets in the country, competition prompted Indian chains like Bikanerwala and Haldiram to upgrade shops.

Similarly, shops in small towns and villages had also seen facelifts due to competition from retail chains. Hence, FDI would not harm local products.
He also cited the example of soft drink brand “Thums Up” claiming that it continued to be more popular than Coca Cola.

“Trade is a two-way relationship, when big investors from India profit in other countries the same will be expected of India,” he said. The NCP leader said his party did not want any policy of the government to hurt the interests of the small traders and farmers.

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