Amid furore over FDI in multi-brand retail, the politicians and farmers in the leading agrarian state of Punjab are speaking in different voices over the issue.
While chief minister Parkash Singh Badal said the concept may be successful in developed countries like USA, he feared that it may not work in this country.
"If the FDI comes, big players will eat into the share of small traders and that will be against the idea of social welfare," 84-year-old Badal said while interacting with reporters in Sirsa on Tuesday.
He was in Sirsa, Haryana, yesterday to inaugurate a hospital in the memory of former deputy prime minister Devi Lal on the departed leader's birth anniversary.
However, speaking on the Centre's decision to allow up to 51% stake in the multi-brand retail sector to foreign firms, Badal's son and deputy CM Sukhbir Singh Badal said the issue was a very important one as there were a number of stake holders.
Sukhbir said in Mansa, Punjab, that the UPA government should have taken into confidence all stakeholders before taking this important decision.
"If a consensus can be built now, no one will have an objection. But a consensus over the issue in entire country is a must," Sukhbir, who is president of the Shiromani Akali Dal, which returned to power in January this year in alliance with the BJP, said.
"The interests of small farmers and traders must be safeguarded," Sukhbir asserted.
Sukhbir Badal's comments on FDI assume significance in the wake of opposition by his party's ally BJP, which is totally opposed to it.
Punjab Congress president Amarinder Singh has accused Sukhbir of taking a U-turn after having earlier written a letter to Union Commerce minister Anand Sharma in support of the concept.
Punjab Mandi Board head Ajmer Singh Lakhowal had on Tuesday welcomed the allowing of FDI in multi-brand retail, saying it will benefit the farmers.