New Delhi: The Opposition BJP on Monday alleged that FDI in multi-brand retail will increase unemployment in the country.

Tha party also said that India cannot make opening of stores by multi-brand retail giants in any city conditional to state government's clearance as the country has signed bilateral investment agreements, which says that no conditions can be put on foreign investors, with 82 countries.

BJP sought an explanation from Congress on these issues and asked whether the state government would have a real right to reject the entry of FDI in multi-brand retail.

"India has entered into bilateral investment agreements with 82 countries. The basic feature of these bilateral treaties is that they accord national treatment to foreign investors. The effect of this provision is that India cannot put any condition on foreign investors which are not applicable to domestic investors," BJP spokesperson Prakash Javadekar said.

He cited a Kerala High Court ruling which had struck down the Left Front government's attempt to stop "corporate retailers" by denying them shop and establishment license.

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

The right-wing party also charged UPA's decision to allow FDI in multi-brand retail will have an adverse impact on the existing jobs and also on new job opportunities in the present retail structure.

BJP also claimed the erstwhile NDA government had created eight million jobs per year while UPA has been unable to meet even one-fourth of this figure. "UPA never crossed the figure of two million in any year of its existence," Javadekar said.

BJP maintained that the US has not allowed multi-brand retail outlets like Walmart to enter some parts like Manhattan and California due to the fear that opening of such stores will lead to loss of many existing jobs. The party maintained that every country puts its own restrictions in the "best national interest" but UPA government has not done so.

"Have the adverse comments in western media on our PM done the trick? Is this a result of Time magazine calling Prime Minister Manmohan Singh an underachiever? Government must explain what was the hurry to take this decision," Javadekar said.

BJP maintained that the US has not allowed multi-brand retail outlets like Walmart to enter some parts like Manhattan and California due to the fear that opening of such stores will lead to loss of many existing jobs. The party maintained that every country puts its own restrictions in the "best national interest" but UPA government has not done so.

"Have the adverse comments in western media on our PM done the trick? Is this a result of Time magazine calling Prime Minister Manmohan Singh an underachiever? Government must explain what was the hurry to take this decision," Javadekar said.

BJP is hopeful that its September 20 Bharat Bandh will be an "unprecedented" success. The small trader forms BJP's core votebank and the party feels by espousing their cause, which will arguably be hampered by the entry of multi-brand outlets like Walmart, Tesco and Carrefour, it will gain politically.

Left parties, SP, TMC, JD(S) and others have also given a call for a country-wide strike on September 20. "The recent decision to allow FDI in multi-brand retail has shaken the conscience of the nation," Javadekar said.

BJP has been worried since the slew of reform measures were announced by UPA government last week. It has taken the wind out of the sails of the opposition campaign on coal mines allocation scam.

Adding to its woes are some states where the party is in power. Gujarat, Karnataka and Punjab (where BJP is the junior partner of SAD government) were initially in favour of FDI in multi-brand retail.

There are apprehensions in quarters of BJP that the party may antagonise some sections by not allowing FDI in multi-brand retail in the states in which it is in power as the financial advantages of the measure would not accrue to it.

(Agencies)

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