UPA clinches retail FDI vote as SP, BSP walk out

Sushma Swaraj

In a point by point rebuttal, Sharma listed out letters that were written to political parties as well as the number of meetings held at the official level by the government with farmers' organisations and others. He said 11 state governments out of 21 had strongly endorsed allowing FDI in multi-brand retail, which had caused the government to push the decision.

Contesting the victory of the government, Swaraj interpreted the debate as a clear indication that the "sense of the house" was against FDI in multi-brand retail. She said that of the 18 parties that participated in the debate, only four - Congress, NCP, RJD and RLD - spoke in favour while 14 parties were strongly opposed. "If you go by the numbers then these 14 parties represent 282 members, who were clearly against FDI in retail" she told the house in her reply.

Earlier, during the debate, the Left parties warned of more protests if the policy was implemented.

"The prime minister, as the leader of opposition in Rajya Sabha earlier, had written a letter opposing it. Congress leader P R Dasmunsi had termed it 'anti-national' in this very house. We have been consistent, you are not," senior CPI(M) leader Basudeb Acharia said.

Quoting what he said were American studies against Walmart and other such retail chains, the CPI(M) leader said there would be wide variations in what the farmers would get for their produce and the price it is sold to the customer "as has happened in several countries including the US".

"We will take this battle to the streets. Wherever you try to implement this plan, we will protest. We will not allow Walmart to come in," Acharia said.

Attacking the Samajwadi Party, the DMK and the Bahujan Samaj Party for bailing out the government, NDA convener and JD(U) leader Sharad Yadav said SP, BSP and DMK were with them during the nationwide protest against FDI and that 85 per cent of the people would be adversely affected by the move.

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