Millennium Post

House divided over FDI fracas

It is of interest that the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance government is trying to mend fences with the opposition parties over the issue of foreign direct investment. Leaders of the Congress appear to be meeting the leading lights of the opposition to resolve the issue. Most surprisingly, the government seems to feel that it is the opposition which is stalling the discussions. Just a few days ago the BJP, the Left party and the Trinamool Congress had served notices for discussion of the issue but the government did not respond to these notices. In fact, it went ahead and took a decision on the issue without consulting the opposition. It has already introduced FDI in India through an executive order allowing 51 per cent FDI in retail this September. This is surprising because there was no urgency about the issue and there was no need to bypass it. The government has gone ahead with allowing a large stake in domestic retail without consulting the opposition. What it has done with regard to FDI is not acceptable and may not even be legally valid. It is not usual for a government to take such important decisions without discussions in Parliament, especially when opinions are divided on the issue.

FDI should only be introduced in the country through amendments in laws after discussions in Parliament, which has not happened. The government cannot steamroll such decisions, on which there is no consensus without widespread consultations with the people of the country. There is simply no consensus on the issue and many in the nation are strongly opposed to FDI at all. The government’s decision is not in keeping with democratic principles of our country. Today, the Opposition parties have divergent views on the subject and some of the Congress allies have concerns. The matter should be discussed in Parliament, in the newspapers and in the public to ensure the right decision. While foreign direct investment may not be bad for the country, it may also not be the solution to all our country’s problems. Many livelihoods may be affected or be dependent on this decision, which is why it should not be taken in a hurry, especially by a government that does not even have a majority in Parliament. A consensus must be built on the issue after widespread discussions. This is in keeping with our democratic traditions. The decision taken so far on this issue by this goverment is thus without the authority of Parliament.
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