New Delhi: The political battle over the issue of allowing FDI in multi-brand retail has become cynosure of all eyes. Both the ruling government and opposition have conflicting views on the issue. While the government seems to have made its mind to go ahead with the decision, the opposition is adamant on opposing FDI in retail.

For a long time now the opposition is vehemently protesting against the FDI in retail. They are firm in their beliefs that allowing FDI is going to increase unemployment in the nation. While the government is certain that by going ahead with the move, both consumers and farmers are going to be benefited, the opposition is of the view that FDI will do no good to the farmers.


For long, the Indian retail market is functioning in a specific manner. Right from the farmers to the consumers there are lots of stakeholders involved in the supply chain. It is in such nature that involvement of middlemen holds big significance and they get their own share of profit from it. It is also reasoned that with the arrival of big retail giants the chunk of money which goes to middlemen can be saved making the products cheaper for the consumers. However, there lies the concern of the opposition that there is a possible threat to middlemen’s livelihoods.  


In the past, elaborating on his defence of FDI, the PM said Congress and the government believes that FDI in retail is in the interest of farmers. "All will be benefited. Farmers will get the right price for their produce. New employment opportunities will emerge. It is wrong that FDI in retail will affect farmers. Such a suggestion is aimed at misleading the country," he said.


However, Refusing to give up on the FDI in multi-brand retail issue which could affect its core vote bank of small traders, BJP said it will oppose the government’s decision in Parliament and try to build a joint strategy with NDA partners and other political parties.

"BJP will strongly oppose the government decision on FDI in multi-brand retail in the forthcoming winter session of Parliament. This decision is not in the interest of the country," party chief spokesperson Ravi Shankar Prasad said.
Implementation of FDI in multi-brand retail sector would amount to committing crime against the poor, former Union Finance Minister Yashwant Sinha said earlier.

"It's a crime against the poor if FDI in the multi-brand retail sector is implemented. As it is, people are suffering from price rise in all commodities," the senior BJP leader told.


Now, as the Winter Session gets underway, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Thursday sought the cooperation of the Opposition in smooth running of Parliament, which has a heavy legislative agenda before it.

Against the backdrop of vociferous opposition to FDI in retail and a threat of a no-confidence motion, Singh also reminded the Opposition of the obligation to work together to enable parliamentary democracy to grapple with the formidable challenges before the country.

Noting that the Parliament had a very heavy legislative agenda during the Winter Session, Singh said, "I seek cooperation from my collegaues in the House to come together and address the issues and challenges that we face as a nation".


But, the Winter Session of Parliament on Thursday got off to a stormy start with the first day getting washed out over FDI in retail even as an effort by Trinamool Congress to bring the no-confidence motion flopped due to lack of requisite numbers.
Left parties have also moved notices under Rule 184 in Lok Sabha and Rule 168 in Rajya Sabha seeking disapproval of the government's decision on the issue. Under both rules, a debate is followed by voting on an issue.

Meanwhile, Taking a line different from its ally BJP, JD(U) on Thursday said the debate on the FDI issue can take place under any rule and appealed to all political parties to allow Lok Sabha to function.
"Whether the discussion is under Rule 184 or 193, there should be a debate and this can happen only if all parties come together to discuss issues including the attack on the 5,000-year-old economy," JD(U) President Sharad Yadav told reporters here.

Maintaining that it was opposed to FDI in retail, the Samajwadi Party on Thursday made it clear it was not keen to "piggyback" on the BJP over its demand for discussion on the issue under a rule that entails voting.

"We are not for piggybacking on the BJP," SP leader Ram Gopal Yadav told reporters outside Parliament when asked about his party's response on BJP's stand on FDI in retail.


MPs from Trinamool Congress and Telangana on Thursday staged a dharna in the Parliament House complex over various issues.
Trinamool MPs staged the dharna at the Gandhi statue in front of the main entrance of Parliament protesting against implementation of FDI in multi-brand retail and raised slogans against the Centre.


With major Opposition parties like BJP and the Left demanding discussion on FDI in retail under rules that entail voting, Parliamentary Affairs Minister Kamal Nath has convened a meeting of all party leaders of both Houses of Parliament on Monday to discuss the issue.
"The Parliamentary Affairs Minister informed us in the Rajya Sabha Business Advisory Committee (BAC) that he will convene an all-party meeting on Monday. He also said he will talk to all party leaders in Lok Sabha and meet them separately on that day. Then a final call will be taken on the issue," CPI(M) leader Sitaram Yechury told reporters here.


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