FDI will convert Indians into salesboys- BJP

The opposition today sharpened its attack on government’s decision to allow foreign investment into the Indian retail sector, saying that it will convert Indians into mere workers.

“Right now, if someone does not get a job, he sets up a small shop. After FDI, Indians will become mere salesgirls and salesboys. The owner will be American,” Shahnawaz Hussain, BJP spokesperson, said today.

The government announced last week that it was finally going ahead with allowing foreign companies, including Wal-Mart, to open stores in India. It had initially taken the decision a few months ago, but was forced to withdraw it after fierce opposition from political parties. FDI is widely expected to boost investment in the supply-chain sector in a country where one-third to half of the vegetable produce gets spoiled or rotten due to poor infrastructure.

India has faced a stubborn food price inflation in the last three years, costing the Congress party dearly in political capital.

Samajwadi Party, a key supporter of the ruling Congress party, also questioned the wisdom of the recent actions taken by the government. “The government has to think what benefit its rule is able to fetch for the ordinary man,” Mulayam Singh Yadav, head of the party, said. Yadav said his party will take a decision on the question of extending support to the government after a meeting of the MPs.

The government has lost its majority in the main house of the Parliament after a key ally, which accounted for about 8% of the government’s strength in the House, withdrew from the government over what it called “anti-people” decisions.

The government decided to implement the FDI decision and raise diesel prices after it was forced to go on the defensive by a Comptroller & Auditor General of India report that found widespread revenue loss to the public exchequerer from the way coal blocks had been allocated to private companies at low rates.

“I would like to remind all those allies and would-be allies that this is the right time to jump the shift. The Congress is a sinking ship.. anyone (any parties) caught even standing in its shadows will not be spared by the people,” Hussain said, directly addressing the Samajwadi Party and the Bahujan Samajwadi Party.

“If they really are against these decisions, let them not talk, but pull back their letter of support to the current government,” he said.

The BJP has smelled an opportunity in the current FDI and diesel controversy to bring down the widely criticised government. The opposition parties, including the BJP and the Left parties, have called for an all-India bandh (strike)