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Kabhi haan, Kabhi naa: BJP’s yes, no, maybe on FDI

india Updated: Jun 21, 2016 15:11 IST
Saubhadra Chatterji
Saubhadra Chatterji
Hindustan Times

Prime Minister Narendra Modi interacts with BJP's national president Amit Shah during the party's national executive meet in Allahabad.(PTI)

Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) veteran Murali Manohar Joshi may not be a happy man today.

It was Joshi who held a press conference a few years ago, when his party was in Opposition, to dismiss the proposals for hiking Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) in private security agencies.

“I sincerely urge the Prime Minister (Manmohan Singh) to send the recommendations of the (Arvind) Mayaram Committee, DEA, ministry of finance regarding the private security sector, aside,” he said. “The department of industrial policy & promotion (DIPP) should refrain from any changes in the FDI policy for private security sector.”

On Tuesday, possibly much to his dismay, the National Democratic Alliance government announced, “The extant policy permits 49% FDI under government approval route in Private Security Agencies. FDI up to 49% is now permitted under automatic route in this sector and FDI beyond 49% and up to 74% would be permitted with government approval route.”

The tinkering in the FDI policy punches a hole in Joshi’s arguments that “any change in regulation that enables foreign nationals or foreign companies to directly own and control private security and detective services agencies in the country can pose to be a serious threat to national security. Particularly when these agencies directly control over 5 million workers in the country who are deployed at highly sensitive sites and also have access to technological equipments that could be misused by foreign entities to compromise national security.”

But Joshi is not the only one who may have to eat crow after the new government’s FDI policy, touted as a big boost to generate employment and infrastructure, was announced on Tuesday. Five years ago, Rajiv Pratap Rudy, now the Union minister for skill development, was quoted in media as opposing the FDI in civil aviation.

Rudy, a former civil aviation minister, was quoted in an IANS report dated November 16, 2011, saying, “We are opposed to foreign investment in the aviation sector as it will lead to annihilation of the domestic industry, including (state-owned) Air India.”

On Wednesday, the BJP-led NDA government allowed 100% FDI in airlines and brought FDI for existing airports under automatic route.

The Union cabinet’s decision to allow 100% FDI in retail food trade — earlier entirely prohibited — is also seen by many as a backdoor entry to partially allow foreign investment in multi-brand retail, a policy vehemently opposed by the BJP during the United Progressive Alliance regime.

Read | Govt relaxes FDI norms in aviation and defence, makes way for Apple stores

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