Column : FDI as a tool of social liberation
The BJP was taken completely by surprise when the Bahujan Samaj Party(BSP) chose to vote in favour of FDI in multi-brand retail in the Rajya Sabha within 24 hours of having abstained from voting in the Lok Sabha on the same issue. Assuming Mayawati would abstain from voting in the Rajya Sabha, BJP leader Arun Jaitley had declared UPA to be on very shaky ground on the eve of voting. But the BSP leader chose to pull the rug from under the main opposition’s feet. The BJP cried foul saying Mayawati had been coerced into voting in favour of the UPA because of some pending CBI cases against her. Indeed, that would be a very naïve reading of the BSP’s motivations. A more nuanced analysis of BSP’ actions suggests that it abstained from voting in the Lok Sabha after speaking against FDI in retail because it wanted to generally cash in on the prevailing fears and apprehensions among small businesses over the impact of foreign investment in this critical sector. Mayawati had earlier made a statement that she would consider endorsing FDI in multi-brand retail after seeing what impact it has on farmers.
Her vote in favour of the policy measure in the Rajya Sabha possibly represents what some prominent Dalit intellectuals have described as the “socially liberating potential of FDI in retail”. Some years ago, BSP member of Parliament Arif Mohammed Khan