The outside supporters of the United Progressive Alliance Government, the Samajwadi Party and the Janata Dal (Secular), have joined the four Left parties to put pressure on the Government against FDI in the retail sector.

The leaders of the six parties have written a letter to the Prime Minister, Dr Manmohan Singh, urging the Government not to open up the retail trade to FDI any further.

The Commerce Minister, Mr Anand Sharma, had recently started discussions with Chief Ministers and political leaders on the issue. The joining of SP and the JD(S) in the Left bandwagon is seen as a setback to the Government’s efforts to bring allies and Opposition to its side on the issue.

The SP chief, Mr Mulayam Singh Yadav, the CPI(M) General Secretary, Mr Prakash Karat, his CPI counterpart, Mr S. Sudhakar Reddy, JD(S) leader Mr Danish Ali, Forward Bloc leader Mr Debabrata Biswas and the RSP Secretary, Mr Abani Roy, have signed in the letter.

Citing reports that the Government is going to revive the decision to allow FDI in multi-brand retail trade, the leaders said such a move was suspended due to widespread opposition in the country.

They said the Indian retail sector is the second largest employer in the country after agriculture. “It employs over four crore persons. Most of these are small unorganised or self-employed retailers,” the letter said.

The parties said entry of multinational supermarket and hypermarket chains would cause severe displacement of small and unorganised traders.

“The entry of the giant Wal-Mart supermarket chain would have a disastrous impact. According to one estimate, a Wal-Mart supermarket in India would displace over 1,300 small retail stores and render around 3,900 persons jobless,” they added.

They reminded the Government that employment growth, according to the National Sample Survey data of 2009-10, has slowed down.

“We urge the Government not to open up the retail trade to FDI any further. Political parties across the spectrum are opposed to this move. Many state governments have also stated their opposition. In the absence of a wide ranging consensus, we request you not to proceed with this decision,” the leaders maintained.

(This article was published on July 22, 2012)
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