UP Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav today said Samajwadi Party has reservations over allowing FDI in retail before addressing farmers' issues.
"FDI in retail should not happen till the farmers and their products are protected," he said in an interaction with members of FICCI Ladies Organisation in New Delhi.
With TV channels reporting that Akhilesh was contradicting his father Mulayam Singh Yadav's stand opposing FDI, senior party leader Ram Gopal Yadav pitched in to say the party was opposed to FDI in retail.
"Lakhs of families will be affected by this (FDI in retail) and even if government introduces this, we will not let it come into force in UP," he said.
Akhilesh Yadav pointed out that when some multi-national companies had opened fast food chains in the country it was said that the potatoes produced by Indian farmers will get a good buyer.
"But that did not happen. There are many such issues. My party and Netajji (Mulayam Singh Yadav)have said that as long as the interests of farmers and small shop-keepers are not protected, our opposition to it (FDI in retail) will continue," the chief minister said.
Yadav, who was accompanied by his wife and first time MP Dimple Yadav, said, "We are not opposing it. All states want that investment comes to them. We are not against FDI. We want that if FDI in retail comes, it should not damage the poor farmers.
"We have no objection to FDI.... FDI should come. Our reservations are only that the issues of farmers must be addressed. Our farmers and small traders should not lose," he said.
The UP chief minister said, "If our manufacturing sector is not strong, finally this (FDI in retail) will damage our market".
"Retail in FDI is a big issue. There is a need for discussion on whether FDI should come in retail or not," he said.
When pointed out that Samajawadi Party had a written a joint letter with JDS and Left parties to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh opposing the move, the chief minister said he was also making the same point.
Maintaining that there was no contradiction between what was written in the letter and what he stated, Akhilesh said his statements are a continuation of the stand Samajwadi Party had taken on the issue in Lok Sabha earlier.
In the joint letter, parties had urged the "government not to open up the retail trade to FDI any further. Political parties across the spectrum are opposed to this move..."
The chief minister said that if other states see huge benefits from FDI in retail, let them first do it and show the results.
Addressing questions on the generation gap vis a vis his father in politics, Yadav said that while the old generation has experience, the young one brings innovation and a good path can be charted out by balancing both.
On withdrawal of criminal cases against some Samajwadi Party leaders, Yadav said that only those cases, which were fake have been withdrawn and that, too, after inquiry.
"It is our responsibility to withdraw the cases against those, who have been falsely implicated...No government withdraw cases without examining them. No case was withdrawn without investigation," Yadav said.
Asked about the promises made by Samajwadi Party about loan waiver of farmers particularly in Bundelkhand where suicides by farmers has been continuing, he said that a plan is being made for this and his government will fulfil all the promises made in the manifesto.
On his government's move to restore the old name of some of the cities changed during BSP's tenure, the Chief Minister said, "People recognise many of these cities by their old names and some of the new names are difficult to identify with".
Asked about incidents of violence in Uttar Pradesh, he said it will take time to correct many ills that he inherited from the previous BSP government.