Chennai: Lashing out at the UPA on the FDI in multi-brand retail, CPM General Secretary Prakash Karat on Wednesday said the Centre will pay a "heavy political price" for trying to impose it, which is "anti-national" and "anti-people". "I am confident that majority of the people in this country are against this policy and we are confident that in the coming days, the Congress and UPA government will have to pay a heavy political price for trying to impose the anti-people and anti-national policy on us," Karat said at a public meeting in Chennai.
Alleging that the Centre was "inclined to serve the interests of the US", Karat said, "when UPA-I was formed in 2004, from that time onwards our Prime Minister has been trying to push through this FDI in retail trade." "In the first term of UPA, as they were dependent on the support of Left parties, they could not push it through," he said.
"First it (the pressure on India) was by president George W Bush. Now it is President Barack Obama. Everytime Manmohan Singh assures them saying 'Yes we will open up our retail trade for Walmart'," he said. "Walmart is one of the biggest companies in the US and what is good for Walmart is good for the US. But unfortunately we have a Prime Minister, a government and a ruling party that thinks what is good for Walmart is good for India. We do not accept that," he said.
Observing that the Congress-led State governments were ready to "go-ahead" with the move to allow FDI in multi-brand retail, Karat said, "When this matter was put to vote in Parliament recently overwhelming number of parties opposed it."
"Out of the 18 parties which participated in debate in the Lok Sabha, 14 parties opposed the FDI policy. Only four parties, including Congress, supported it, which means overwhelming majority of MPs were against FDI in retail trade," he said. When the voting took place, the motion to disapprove FDI in both the Houses failed to get majority since Congress government was "very good" at managing votes, Karat said.
"We have seen how they managed votes when they were in minority. We saw it in 2008 during the no-confidence motion. And we saw it earlier also when the Narasimha Rao government faced no-confidence motion in 1993. They can manage to become a majority from being a minority. And the method they make have nothing to do with the real issue," he said. He said the Left parties are conducting conventions across the country to mobilise all sections of the people against FDI in multi-brand retail.
"We are holding these kind of conventions in all major cities, to mobilise public opinion, mobilise the traders, shopkeepers, so that we can build a powerful movement. By the time, the government is able to bring Walmart to put shops in India, we will have such a powerful movement that not even one Walmart shop can be opened in India," he said.
On the government's proposal to introduce cash transfer scheme from January one, Karat said to protect the employment and livelihood of crores of people, the Left parties are also conducing a movement for food security so that every citizen of our country has access to cheap food. "That is why we have launched today a mass signature campaign to demand a Food Security Law to be passed in Parliament," he said.
"Our demands are - it should be universal public distribution system without dividing people into BPL and APL categories. Everybody should have access to rationing system," he said. He said the government is trying to undermine public distribution system by proposing a cash transfer scheme. "You will get money instead of ration. And that is the way to dismantle the public distribution system," Karat said.