Opposing FDI in retail - Opportunistic maneuvering
As prospects of FDI in multi-brand retail have brightened in recent days, BJP has come out in opposition to the reform. Here is their take:
“We will oppose the decision of the government both at the Centre and by the state governments. The decision of the government would not only affect our domestic retail sector but would also destroy domestic manufacture because the foreign companies would be able to buy products from other countries and flood our markets with imported goods made available at these retail chains,” said a senior BJP leader who is among the policy makers in the party.
This struck me as odd. If memory served me right, NDA was in favour of allowing FDI in retail during their term in Office(1999 to 2004). In April 2004, when they were still in power, this was Finance minister Jaswant Singh:
Dismissing notions that foreign retail brands would dislodge Indian brands from the market, Singh said the NDA was considering only 26 per cent FDI and not handing over the entire retail trade. “The Indian sherbeth is still there despite Coca-Cola and Pepsi. Our experience is that the Indian brand has great strength,” he said.
It is hard to explain this shift in position. If anything, supply constraints and food wastage seen year after year make the need for reform even more pressing. This just seems to be opposition to a policy for the sake of it.
This reminds you of their opposition to the Nuclear deal during UPA-1''s term in office. Having suffered the electoral debacle in 2009, some would have hoped that BJP and NDA would be a bit more constructive in their opposition to public policy initiatives. Apparently, those lessons have not been learnt. Voters should not overlook this.