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'Will oppose retail FDI in House'

BJP president Nitin Gadkari announced on Thursday that the party would reach out to all non-Congress parties in the coming session of Parliament to coerce the government into changing its decision on FDI in multi-brand retail.

india Updated: Sep 28, 2012 01:56 IST
Vikas Pathak

BJP president Nitin Gadkari announced on Thursday that the party would reach out to all non-Congress parties in the coming session of Parliament to coerce the government into changing its decision on FDI in multi-brand retail.


The party clarified that though it was not against reforms, retail FDI was an exception. Senior BJP leader Arun Jaitley said the NDA’s reforms were key to the growth path of the economy in the early years of UPA 1, before a "policy paralysis" set in.

Clearly, the BJP is walking a tightrope — opposing the retail FDI to reach out to its constituency of small traders and generally embarrass the government. It is also seeking to retain its appeal across a cross-section of urban, middle-class citizens by emphasising that it is otherwise pro-liberalisation.

"In the next Parliament session, we'll talk to all parties and bring them together to force the government to change its decision," Gadkari said . Hours later, presenting the economic resolution of the party, Jaitley said that retail FDI cannot be considered a reform. "Reforms are pro-people. Today, a bad name is being given to reforms…"

While India was offering a unilateral concession to Western governments, their own agricultural subsidies, outsourcing curbs and visa restrictions were not being discussed, he said.

Gadkari countered the government's argument that FDI in retail would result in the creation of cold chains to preserve agricultural produce. "Does the government not have the responsibility to make cold storages? Do we have to rely on MNCs for this?" he asked.

Jaitley said as global retail giants would source their goods internationally, domestic production would decline. Flaying the contention that the move would ensure cheaper goods, Jaitley said, "International retailers work on the principle of 'buy cheap and sell costlier'. The initial low prices facilitated by deep pockets result in eliminating competition and then raising prices."