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Sangh affiliate threatens to protest Obama's visit

A Sangh Parivar affiliate today threatened to protest Barack Obama's forthcoming visit to the country if the government failed to make it clear till the US President's arrival in New Delhi that it would not open multi-brand retail sector to foreign companies.

delhi Updated: Nov 01, 2010 20:14 IST

A Sangh Parivar affiliate on Monday threatened to protest Barack Obama's forthcoming visit to the country if the government failed to make it clear till the US President's arrival in New Delhi that it would not open multi-brand retail sector to foreign companies.

"We will protest the visit of Obama, wherever he goes in India, if government fails to make it clear till his arrival that it is not going to open FDI in multi-brand retailing," spokesman of Swadeshi Jagaran Manch (SJM) Ashwani Mahajan told reporters here.

Claiming to have the support of Bhartiya Majdoor Sangh (BMS) and Akhil Bhartiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP), he said the SJM has "tentatively" decided to stage a protest in this connection here on November 8 but said the date and venue of the agitation could be changed.

Criticising the government for initiating a discussion on opening of FDI in multi-brand retailing, Mahajan alleged that by this "stance", it has made its intention "very clear" that it is trying to sell "great" Indian market worth over 20 lakh crore to the interest of MNCs.

"US retail giant Wal-Mart Stores Inc CEO Michael T Duke has been camping in the capital for the last few months, ahead of the tour of US President, to lobby for opening up multi-brand retailing for MNCs", he alleged.

Accusing Commerce Minister Anand Sharma of "always pushing forward the interest of USA and other developed countries", Mahajan claimed that entry of foreign companies in multi-brand retailing was a threat to the existence of over 3 crore people engaged in the retail sector along with another 1.7 crore in subsidiary sector.

He said the Parliamentary Standing Committee had recommended against opening the retail sector for FDI.

"Giving scant respect to the recommendations of the committee of apex decision making institution of the country, the government has chosen to appease the US President. This looks even more unfortunate in view of Obama's open policy to stall outsourcing business of India," he said.

Mahajan also questioned the "reasonableness" in the government's decision to initiate a discussion on the issue on the basis of the findings of ICRIER, a research organisation, which came to a conclusion "for whole of India only by interviewing 2020 small retailers, 1318 consumers and 197 farmers who grow cauliflowers".

Wondering why only ICRIER headed by Isher Judge Ahluwalia, who is Planning Commission Deputy Chairman Montek Singh Ahluwalia's wife, was chosen twice for carrying out research, he asked, "There are other good research oganisations in India. Why only ICRIER?"

He said SJM "strongly" condemns the discussion paper issued on opening of GDI for multi-brand retailing and rejects the "so called finding" of ICRIER, alleging that "they are clearly motivated".