Walmart, Metro stores to face BJP wrath in Himachal

A day after a Congress minister announced that international retail giants Walmart and Metro Cash and Carry will be allowed to open in Himachal Pradesh, the opposition BJP on Saturday came out against the decision.

“Retail chains will not be allowed to enter the state if the interest of small, marginal traders is at stake,” state BJP president Satpal Satti said in a statement here.

State food and civil supplies minister G S Bali said on Friday that the government had invited Walmart and Metro Cash and Carry to open stores in Himachal.

“There could be other retail outlets which are keen to open stores in the state, but the government will see the response of the public (towards Walmart and Metro) and then take a call,” he said.

“Soon after coming to power, the government allowed a multinational firm to restart the controversial Himalayan Ski Village near Manali. And now it is bent upon allowing big food chains to ruin the marginal traders,” the Bharatiya Janata Party leader said.
Satpal Satti said the Himachal government was taking such decisions in order to please Congress president Sonia Gandhi.

“To capture the market and get a monopoly, these retail chains would supply food items on nominal prices initially, and as soon as they capture the market, the consumers would be forced to get these items at exorbitant rates,” he said.

However, the minister clarified that allowing Walmart and Metro does not mean that the government has decided on allowing foreign direct investment in retail. “Since Walmart purchases goods in bulk from manufacturers and then sells them directly to the consumers, ultimately the consumer will benefit,” Bali said.

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