Hyderabad: January 11, 2012 : The CPI(M) has charged the Manmohan Singh government of trying to bring in FDI in multiple brand retail through the back door and it threatened to launch a countrywide movement against it.
Addressing a press conference here today, CPI(M) general secretary Prakash Karat slammed the government for allowing 100 per cent FDI in single brand retail, which was earlier limited to 51 per cent. He said the government seems to be waiting for the elections to five state assemblies to get over before trying to push ahead with 100 per cent FDI in multi brand retail.
The Manmohan Singh government was forced to suspend its decision to allow FDI in multi brand retail following widespread opposition. Karat said that opposition stemmed from the fact that the livelihoods of millions of small shopkeepers and traders would be jeopardised by that decision. Asserting that this cannot be allowed, he said that CPI(M) has taken a decision to conduct a countrywide movement against FDI in retail if the government went ahead with its intention. He was confident that other political parties would also stand in opposition to this measure.
On Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s comment about the high levels of malnutrition being a ‘national shame’, Karat questioned as to what his government was doing about the situation. “It is not that the parents do not want to feed their children. They are unable to feed because they cannot afford the high prices of food. In such a situation the government must make available food at cheap rates to all”, he demanded. Karat lambasted the government for trying to bring in a food security legislation that actually curtails the right to food security of people. He asserted that the CPI(M) will oppose this Bill if the objectionable aspects of food coupons, foodgrains at Rs 3 per kg, conditionalties on states etc are not removed. He demanded supply of 35 kgs foodgrains per month to everyone in the country at Rs 2 per kg.
On Lokpal legislation, the CPI(M) leader asked the government to make necessary amendments to the Bill before trying to get it passed in Rajya Sabha. The Bill in its present form will not provide for an effective Lokpal. The CPI(M) demands the following amendments: broadbasing of selection process of Lokpal; the removal of Lokpal power must be transferred to Supreme Court; the Lokpal must have its own investigative machinery; corporate misdeeds must also be brought within the ambit of Lokpal; and there should be no imposition of Lokayuktas through a central legislation, it must be left to the states.
Karat opposed the visit of foreign minister S M Krishna to Israel saying that it sends a wrong signal to the Arab world given the fact that Israel is right now conducting bellicose joint military exercises along with US in that region. In the background of Israel’s open threats about bombing Iran’s nuclear facilities, India’s foreign minister should not have gone now, he said. He questioned the direction of Indian government’s foreign policy.
About the coming elections to five state assemblies, Karat informed that the CPI(M) would be contesting 18 seats in UP along with CPI, 9 seats in Punjab along with CPI and Punjab People’s Party, 6 seats in Uttarakhand and 2 seats in Manipur.
Answering a question, he ridiculed Mamata Banarjee for charging CPI(M) being B Team of Congress. He reminded that TMC had joined hands with Congress to fight against the Left Front. He said after coming to power the TMC has not taken any steps to implement the tall promises made before elections. “Today if anything goes wrong in Bengal, she blames CPI(M)”, he said.
About Telangana issue, Karat criticised the union government for unduly delaying its decision despite the Srikrishna Committee submitting its report over a year ago. He felt there is no need for further consultations on this issue and the government must come out with its decision without delay.
To another question, he said the merger of CPI(M) and CPI is not on the agenda of his party . There would be strengthening of cooperation between CPI and CPI(M) on people’s issues, he said.