Mamata clout wanes,Cong CMs press for retail FDI

Maha CM Chavan said the central government must not allow any one state to veto the proposal.

Written by D K Singh | New Delhi | Mumbai | Published: June 17, 2012 9:51 pm

The possibility of the Trinamool Congress’s exit from the UPA has thrown open a window of opportunity for the government to push through foreign direct investment (FDI) in multibrand retail,especially with several Congress chief ministers,including Sheila Dikshit of Delhi,aggressively pushing for it.

“I as a person would welcome FDI. It is a revolution that is taking place in the country. In India,we have to get on to modern technology and means,” Dikshit said at the Express Adda in Mumbai on Saturday evening.

Other Congress chief ministers have criticized Trinamool chief Mamata Banerjee for blocking the implementation of the proposal,cleared by the union cabinet last November,permitting 51 per cent FDI in multibrand retail.

Maharashtra Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan said the central government must not allow any one state to veto the proposal. “You (the Centre) can always put a rider that states which do not want it should be allowed not to do it,” Chavan said.

“Once such states see the benefits accruing to other states from FDI in this sector,they will come around. But one state should not be allowed to veto it. If some state has some ideological objection to it,they can say ‘don’t set up shop in my state’. But you cannot deny the benefit to others,” he said.

FDI in the retail sector entails benefits like reduction of the role of middlemen and the modernisation of agriculture among others,Chavan added.

Haryana Chief Minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda stressed the benefits retail FDI would bring to farmers. “Farmers will be the biggest beneficiary of FDI in the retail sector with more investment in developing infrastructure like cold chains,processing facilities,etc,” Hooda said.

Speaking at Adda — a unique event at which a selected audience participates in a freewheeling discussion with individuals at the centre of change in our times — Dikshit pointed out that about 30-40 per cent of vegetables and other perishable goods in Delhi are wasted.

“Now if FDI comes,refrigeration is there and they are properly marketed,it would save the country 30-40 per cent of what it is losing today. Delhi has seven or eight fruit,vegetable,grain and flower markets. Now,if all these markets had refrigeration,we wouldn’t be wasting the kind of food we are wasting now. A kg of tomato that costs Rs 10 in the morning comes down to Rs 2 in the evening due to the lack of refrigeration,” Dikshit said.

Assam Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi last week urged the Prime Minister to implement retail FDI soon.

“Those who don’t want it,let them take a decision on their own. Why should we suffer? This decision holds significance in unlocking the true potential of our agrarian economy,as in the absence of adequate logistics and infrastructure,a larger part of farm produce never reaches the market,” Gogoi told reporters in New Delhi.

The only note of dissent has come from Kerala Chief Minister Ooomen Chandy who,however,said that despite his state’s opposition,he would not stand in the way of others implementing it.

“Our state has taken a decision to oppose it because,at this stage,FDI in retail sector is not good for small shop owners. We have to think very seriously about its implementation. But the (central) government is giving freedom to states to decide whether to allow it or not. We have taken a decision not to implement it,” he said.

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