By axing the laid down norms carved out to protect the interests of the retail traders the UPA government has thrown open the Indian retail sector to the loot for the global multi-brand retail companies. The Socialist Party strongly opposes the decision and appeals the opposition parties, including the prime opposition party BJP, to protest against this decision with the demand that the decision of allowing FDI in the retail sector must be scrapped for ever.
With this new decision on FDI in retail the Congress leaders have shed away all Constitutional obligations and have come out in open against the retailers and farmers of India. They do not honour their own words/decisions made in the Parliament. The ‘goddess of renunciation’ Sonia Gandhi, ‘demigod of honesty’ Manmohan Singh, his ‘best neo-liberal boy’ P. Chidambaram and likes have come out in their true colours. They all are bent upon to sell the country to the multinationals.
As per the decision now global retail companies are allowed to open their stores in cities with population less than 10 lakh; the condition that 30% procurement must be from Indian small industries with total investment of less than $1 million has been relaxed in favour of medium scale industries with a total investment not exceeding $2 million; the condition that global companies must spend 50% of their investment on infrastructure has also been relaxed to first $100 million invested by them.
The Socialist Party, at this crucial juncture, would like to remind people of the country that the UPA government was forced to withhold the decision of the Cabinet allowing 51% FDI in the retail sector in November 2011, following united and stiff protest by the non-Congress political parties and trade union bodies. But the UPA government, wedded to the ill-conceived notion of growth rate, implemented the decision to appease and benefit the foreign and Indian corporate lobbies. It can be remembered that in early May last year, the US Foreign Secretary Mrs. Hillary Clinton visited India with this agenda at top priority. Mrs. Clinton has served on Wal-Mart board as its director for six years. West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee had expressed utmost resentment against the decision. That is why Mrs. Clinton went to Calcutta first to meet, praise and appease Mrs. Banerjee. The Indian MD of the French retail giant Carrefour called on Commerce and Industry Minister Anand Sharma and forced him to implement the withheld decision at the earliest.
In view of this descending danger, the Socialist Party held a day-long dharna at Jantar Mantar on 28 May 2012 against the government’s decision and submitted a memorandum to the President requesting her to advise the government to scrap the decision conclusively. The Socialist Party also sent a letter to all non-Congress office bearers and chief ministers requesting them not to implement this anti-people and anti-national decision in their states. Further, the Socialist Party observed Quit India day as ‘No to FDI day’ in Delhi and other cities of the country. The party also participated in the Bharat Bandh of 20 September 2012 and organised a protest march in Delhi and other cities.
The Socialist Party, time and again, has emphatically emphasised that the ‘loss-benefit’ discussion that went on in the mainstream media and the ruling circles on this issue has no meaning. The FDI in the retail sector is for the benefit of the multinationals such as Wall Mart, Carrefour, Tesco, big Indian corporate houses and, of course, the ruling elite of India. The 4 crore retailers with their 20-25 crore family members will be the losers from the beginning to the end. Country’s farmers will also bear the brunt of the decision. The already critical state of unemployment would be worsened further.
It is unfortunate that those who claim to be the champions of socialism and social justice, such as Samajwadi Party, Bahujan Samaj Party, Rashtriya Janata Dal, Lok Janshakti Party, Dravid Munetra Kazhgam etc., have been playing the game of hide and seek from the very beginning on this contentious issue. They do this at the cost of the vulnerable sections of the society who trusted them and made them powerful. It was the most unfortunate act on their part that they happily attended the dinner party offered by the PM in November 2012 to garner their support to implement the withheld decision. The Socialist Party had termed PM’s dinner diplomacy as mrityu bhoj of the hard working poor people whose lives have perished or are destined to perish by such neo-liberal decisions.
The Socialist Party appeals to the political parties who truly favour the retailers to come together and force the government to scrap FDI in retail for ever. The party also appeals to the various trader bodies, trade unions, social organisations and concerned citizens who believe in the Constitutional sovereignty and socialism to come forward unitedly and decisively against this neo-liberal onslaught.
Dr. Prem SinghGeneral Secretary/Spokesperson