Criticising the ruling Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) for opposing the UPA government's decision to allow foreign direct investment (FDI) in retail sector, former Congress MLA Sukhpal Khaira said chief minister Parkash Singh Badal must explain why his party was doing so.
"Initially the SAD had supported FDI, but took a U-turn to please its coalition partner, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)," Khaira said. "The interest of the state cannot be compromised merely for personal relations with the BJP. There must be valid reasons to block better avenues likely to accrue from FDI in retail."
"The UPA government has taken a bold decision to allow FDI in retail after much pondering and considering the interest of the nation, particularly the farmers," Khaira said. He claimed that farmers were likely to benefit immensely as they would get direct buyers for their crops, particularly cash crops, at much better rates.
"At present, farmers are fleeced by small traders and shopkeepers for their cash crops and fruits," Khaira said. "Once FDI comes, they would also get the opportunity for various other new crops, vegetables and fruits and would have assured buyers."
"Even consumers would benefit from FDI as they would get better quality goods at more competitive prices," the former MLA said. It would also create jobs, he added.
On the BJP's opposition to FDI, Khaira said it was because the party feared it would lose its vote bank among traders and shopkeepers.
"But we fail to understand the irrational, illogical and anti-farmer stance being adopted by the SAD," he said. "When it comes to vote politicising, the SAD always claims that it is the sole champion of the farmers. Why then is the chief minister opposing this move?" Khaira has asked Badal to reconsider his party's stand on the issue.