New Delhi: BJP leader L.K. Advani on Monday said Prime Minister Manmohan Singh was critical of FDI in retail during the NDA rule and had told the Federation of Maharashtra Traders in 2002 that the government had no proposal to invite such investment.

In the latest post on his blog, Advani said Manmohan Singh's letter to the Federation of Maharashtra Traders had found mention during discussions on the economic resolution at the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) national council meeting last week.

He said the traders' federation had conveyed their concern to Manmohan Singh, who was leader of opposition in the Rajya Sabha in 2002, about FDI in multi-brand retail. Advani said Mannohan Singh conveyed in his letter dated Dec 21, 2002, that the matter had been raised in the Rajya Sabha two days earlier.

Advani quoted from Manmohan Singh's letter "that (National Democratic Alliance) government had no proposal to invite foreign direct investment in retail trade". The BJP leader said a letter from C.T. Shanghvi, chairman, Foreign Trade Committee of the federation, has attributed to Manmohan Singh an even more forthright criticism of FDI in retail.

In his letter, Shanghvi said that even before the federation made detailed submissions during their meeting in 2002-03, Manmohan Singh had categorically stated that "we should not permit foreign direct investment in retail trade".

"You had further mentioned that 'India does not require this kind of reform which would, rather than creating employment, destroy employment'," Shanghvi's letter said. Advani said Shanghvi also wrote about the delegation briefing Manmohan Singh about unfair trade practices (such as predatory pricing) adopted by multi-national retail chain stores to kill the competition by small retailers and its undesirable impact in some far eastern countries, including Thailand, Malaysia and Indonesia, which had "erroneously" permitted FDI in retail trade during the late 1990s.

Advani's comments about the prime minister came on a day when Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee held a rally in New Delhi against the government's economic decisions, including FDI in multi-brand retail.


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