New Delhi: The BJP on Monday questioned the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government's contention that the states were free to decide on allowing foreign direct investment (FDI) in multi-brand retail and said the central government had entered into bilateral investment agreements with 82 countries which entailed giving "national" treatment to foreign investors.

BJP spokesperson Prakash Javadekar told reporters that the nation-wide shutdown Sep 20 against the UPA government's decision to hike diesel price, allow foreign equity in retail as well as corruption was getting spontaneous support of the people.

"The government's recent decision allowing FDI has shaken the conscience of the nation. Instead of providing relief (over diesel hike), the government has added salt to (their) injury," he said.

He said the UPA government had a dismal record of creating new employment opportunities and the FDI decision would adversely impact jobs. "The NDA (National Democratic Alliance) government created eight million jobs in structured employment per year but in the UPA, it is not even two million. The FDI in retail will increase unemployment," he said.

Questioning the government's contention that states were free to choose whether to allow FDI in multi-brand retail, Javadekar said the central government had entered into bilateral investment agreements with 82 countries and it cannot put any condition on foreign investors which is not applicable to domestic investors.

"As there are no restritictions on local retail chains, the restrictions on foreign chains by the states would be declared by courts as "void", Javadekar said.

He said the Left-front in Kerala tried to stop 'corporate retailers' by denying them shop and establishment licenses but the action of the state government was struck down by the Kerala High Court.

"The government should explain if states would have a real right to reject FDI in retail," he said.

The BJP leader said any concession given to foreign countries has to have a reciprocal gain.

"Many western countries are interested to access the huge Indian market through multi-brand retail chains. It is an ill-conceived decision," Javadekar said.

He said the Manmohan Singh government also did not hold promised consultations with other political parties.

Javadekar said many cities of the USA were not allowing Walmart-like chains to open their stores because of the fear of losing existing jobs.

Referring to government advertisements explaining the rationale behind the diesel price hike, he said the government had hiked the price but was asking states to reduce taxes.

"It is the heavy taxation which has made petro products costly. The fact is that without taxes, the diesel will be available at Rs.30 and petrol at Rs.35.," he said.

He also refuted the contention that the standing committee had suggested putting a cap of six on the number of subsidised cylinders per family in a year. Javadekar said a family of four on an average consumes a cylinder a month and the government move will put an additional burden of Rs.2,400 per family every year.

Javadekar said that allies of the UPA government should not do a "drama" and should withdraw support if their opposition to the government over its economic decisions was serious.

He also attacked the government over coal block allocations and said these should be cancelled.

(Agencies)

Latest News from India News Desk