Walmart becomes the focal point of FDI debate

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New Delhi, Dec 5: Whenever the issue of foreign direct investment (FDI) in multi-brand retail is discussed, the name of Walmart will invariably come into the forefront. Once again when two-day debate on FDI under Rule 184 resumed in Lok Sabha on Wednesday, Dec 5, Opposition parties accused Congress-led UPA of being partial towards Walmart.

Opposing FDI, CPI leader Gurudas Dasgupta said that Prime Minister Manmohan Singh was ready to sacrifice government for Walmart.

NCP's Praful Patel defended FDI in retail. He said it will not affect the small businessman. "The small retailer should be protected," he added.

Even the name Coca Cola, the soft drink belonging to PepsiCo group, was referred during the debate.

"We had sent back Coca Cola. But it was allowed back in; the company acquired Parle's Thums Up and tried to replace it with Coke. But Thums Up is still more popular in India than Coca Cola," said Patel.

Slamming Manmohan Singh over the issue of allowing FDI in multi-brand retail, BJP leader LK Advani earlier said the red carpet was being rolled out for Wal-Mart when it faced protests even in the US and New York City "shut Walmart out".

In an earlier blog, Advani referred to the reported unrest brewing against US' largest retailer Walmart in various American cities at a time when the government here was "rolling out the red carpet" for it.

In 2007, Walmart announced an agreement with Bharti Enterprises to establish a joint venture, Bharti Walmart Private Limited, for wholesale cash-and-carry and back-end supply chain management operations in India. "A typical wholesale cash-and carry facility stands between 50,000 and 100,000 square feet and sells a wide range of fruits and vegetables, groceries and staples, stationery, footwear, clothing, consumer durables and other general merchandise items. Our first Best Price Modern Wholesale opened in 2009," states the website of Walmart.

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