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HT Correspondent, Hindustan Times
Bhopal, October 05, 2012
Emphasising the need for unity within the Congress to take on the state BJP government, Union minister of state for commerce and industry Jyotiraditya Scindia on Thursday said that leaders should sink their differences and work for the party. Scindia was in Bhopal to participate in the gherao of the CM House organised by the Congress. Addressing a press conference, Scindia said factionalism is in all political parties. "But we are fighting a battle for the basis of the party. I ask all leaders to lock their differences in a room and hit the streets. The Congress cannot be stopped from coming to power then," he said.

Scindia further said that no force could stop the Congress from coming to power, if every leader works like a worker of the party. "I am ready to be deputed wherever the party wants me to work," he added. There are speculations that the Union minister would be leading the party in the run up to the next assembly elections.

Terming those opposing FDI in retail as anti-national, Scindia said that the next revolution would take place not in IT and services but in the agriculture sector.

"India is the second largest producer of fruits and vegetables and the third largest in food grain. But, the problem is that 40% of this is wasted and only 5-10% is processed. Investment in this sector is imperative," he said, adding that a number of conditions have been laid down to safeguard local businesses.

Highlighting the benefits of FDI in retail for farmers, Scindia said that it would be allowed only in cities with a population of 10 lakh or more. "A minimum investment of 100 million US$ is required for this and half the investment should be in back-end operations, logistics, cold chains etc, which would benefit the agriculture sector," he added.

On the increase of prices of petroleum products, the Union minister said that the NDA, when it was in power, increased the price 28 times. "We are dependent on imports as far as petroleum products are concerned and fluctuations in international prices affect prices in India," he said. Scindia also pointed out that the price hike is being borne by the Union government and oil companies and only a third is passed on to the consumer.

Attacking the state government, Scindia said that the BJP talks in dual tones. "The CM should reply why he has gone to the US to get investments when the BJP is opposed to foreign investment," he said. He also said that farmers are facing a shortage of fertilisers, water and electricity in the state.

On being asked why the Congress was holding a gherao of the CM House when the chief minister was away, Scindia said it was a protest against issues and policies of the state government.

On Gujarat CM Narendra Modi's recent attacks on the Congress, Scindia said that Modi had nothing to show by way of his work and was shifting blame on others.