Akali Dal takes U-turn on retail FDI

Chandigarh : After going to town welcoming the central government’s move to allow Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) in retail, the ruling Akali Dal in Punjab has taken a political U-turn on the matter.

Going against the stand of Akali Dal president Sukhbir Singh Badal, who is the Punjab deputy chief minister and son of Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal, who had whole-heartedly welcomed FDI in retail, the Akali Dal has now demanded that the “central government discuss the issue threadbare in parliament”.

Sukhbir Badal had, in fact, written a letter to union Commerce Minister Anand Sharma immediately after the central government announced the cabinet decision to allow 51 percent FDI in retail, complimenting the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government on the move.

But at a meeting of the Akali Dal core committee held here Thursday evening, Sukhbir Badal said “the issue needed to be looked at afresh, keeping in view the interests of the small farmers, vendors and small and medium traders”.

“Accordingly, the party wanted that the issue be discussed threadbare in parliament before the government took a decision on the subject,” a party spokesman said.

“The party will not support any move which adversely affects the interests of farmers and small and medium traders and consumers. The party demands that full details of the FDI proposal be made public and placed before the nation through parliament,” he said here.

Sources in the Akali Dal said the party’s U-turn on the FDI issue came after its alliance partner in Punjab, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), which is opposing the FDI move vehemently, approached Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal not to support the UPA government on this.

The senior Badal, who is the Akali Dal patron, then asked the party core committee to discuss the issue, leading to the Akali leadership’s political U-turn on the issue, the sources said.

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