the decision. “Your fear that the government will fall because of this vote is unfounded,” she said.
The mainstay of Swaraj’s 90-minute offensive though was underlining that FDI in retail had failed in Western economies and that retail giants such as Walmart had finished the small retailer everywhere through predatory pricing. “Hum aapko hara ke jeetna nahin chahte, hum aapko mana ke jeetna chahte hain (We don’t want the rollback by defeating you. We want the rollback by convincing you),” she said.
Swaraj also said claims that farmers will benefit from the move were “baseless” and that farmers in the European Union had been forced to sell their produce below production cost to large retail chains. “A fool learns from his own experience, while a wise man learns from the experience of others,” she said. Even President Barack Obama was now supporting the small retailer with the “small business Saturday” campaign in the US, she added.
In the discussion that was punctuated by repeated disruptions and heated exchanges, Swaraj also pointed out that Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had opposed FDI in retail in 2002 when he was leader of the Rajya Sabha. She read out a letter that Singh had written to a Mumbai business representative expressing such views, and asked what had happened for him to change his mind. Pointing to recent media reports which said that Walmart had initiated investigations into corrupt practices in India, she hinted that there may be more than meets the eye. “The decision to allow FDI in retail is not a step towards development but a leap into the ditch of destruction,” she said.
The BJP leader also maintained that her party was not opposed to FDI per se and was willing to travel with the Prime Minister across the world to invite investments in other sectors such as infrastructure and power.
Articulating the government’s position, Sibal maintained that the policy was aimed at benefiting farmers while strengthening the country’s infrastructure sector. “The purpose of the policy is that farmers should get a higher price for their produce than they get in the mandi (wholesale market). It will abolish the middleman system,” he said and cited an example of a West Bengal district where Pepsico is procuring potatoes directly from farmers.
“The foreign investor has to invest US $100 million out of which US $50 million has to be invested for infrastructure development,” he said. The small-scale industry sector