Amid reports that Shiromani Akali Dal President and Punjab Deputy Chief Minister Sukhbir Badal, who is a key NDA ally, has softened his stand on FDI in multi-brand retail, BJP today said it is opposed to the proposal completely as it is against the interest of the farming community. BJP clarified that it is not a question of the quantum of FDI to be allowed and the party is fully against it.
Party president Nitin Gadkari elaborated on this point in his inaugural address at the BJP's National Executive Meet here. "We are opposed to FDI in multi-brand retail and once we come to power, the consequences will follow," BJP chief Spokesperson Ravi Shankar Prasad said, indicating that the NDA will do away with the policy even if the UPA government implements it.
Asked about the agenda for good governance released by BJP before the 2004 General elections which said the party favours 26 per cent FDI in multi-brand retail, Prasad said, "Leave it to us. 2004 is eight years ago. Wait for our manifesto. Gadkari categorically opposed FDI in multi-brand retail."
The Union Cabinet had approved 51 per cent FDI in multi-brand retail and the government has stated firmly that there will be no rollback of the proposal despite ally TMC withdrawing support to the UPA regime.
Badal was quoted as saying in the media that had the government not forced reforms on it and acted like a "dictator", the party may have welcomed FDI in multi-brand retail.
Asked about Badal's comments, Prasad said, "We keep talking to Sukhbir Badal and have held discussions with him on this issue also. There is no difference (of opinion between us) at all."
"BJP is of the firm view that FDI in multi-brand retail is not in the interest of India and that is the view of NDA as well," he added. Earlier, in his speech, Gadkari had maintained that FDI in multi-brand retail in not good for the farming community and India's retail chain.
BJP insisted that it is not against reforms and is proud of its "record of governance, reforms, pro-people policies and equitable growth".
The party pointed out that there are several hurdles in the implementation of the UPA decision on FDI in multi-brand retail, saying India is a signatory to bilateral agreements with 82 countries where it cannot stop foreign multinationals from entering certain states if it is allowing domestic companies to set up shop.
BJP said the Kerala High Court verdict, which said FDI in multi-brand retail cannot be allowed, will also have to be respected. All the BJP and NDA ruled states are opposed to the policy.