On Wednesday, January 10, 2018, the government cleared 100% FDI in single-brand retail via the automatic route. Soon after, the Congress started a social media campaign accusing the BJP of hypocrisy and doing a u-turn on its opposition to FDI in retail. Let us see some of these tweets:
Here is Randeep S. Surjewala:
Mr Surjewala has accused the government and the party in power of lying. However, let us first look closely at the image in Mr Surjewala’s tweet:
We can clearly see that the BJP leaders were by and large talking about multi-brand retail. This is a position that the BJP has consistently maintained. For instance, below are some news stories from the time when the Congress was in office and after the BJP had taken over post 2014 elections:
Now, if we see closely the images of the bjp.org booklet Mr Surjewala has posted, there is a short paragraph on single-brand retail whereas the focus of the booklet is clearly on FDI in multi-brand retail:
The BJP’s stance appears to have always been against FDI in multi-brand retail and not single-brand retail, with the argument being that multi-brand retail FDI would create monopolies in a whole sector and destroy local traders.
Mr Surjewala’s own tweets betray the false narrative the Congress appears to have built on this and we have seen that even after taking office, the BJP’s stand has not changed. And, for the record, multi-brand retail FDI policy continues the same, with 51% FDI allowed.
Now, let us see how the tweets criticising the government and BJP themselves further betray the Congress’s narrative. Below is Sam Jawed:
Ms Jawed calls is a “u-turn” by the BJP and PM Modi, whereas if we watch the video clip of Narendra Modi (then in opposition), we can clearly hear him mention 51% FDI, which unambiguously refers to multi-brand retail which policy PM Modi’s government has not changed, whereas in single-brand retail FDI up to 49% has been allowed hitherto via the automatic route. So we seem to have an instance of a journalist helping spread the same false narrative that the Congress is apparently building.
Thus, even as the Congress accuses the BJP of u-turn, below is further evidence of how the BJP’s stance was viewed in the public domain:
Finally, below is what the official press release said:
Here is how the change in FDI policy on January 10 was reported in the public domain:
Therefore, the facts are the following:
- In 2014, BJP opposed FDI in multi-brand retail
- In 2015, the BJP-led government reiterated that stand
- In 2018, 100% FDI has been allowed in single-brand retail only
Meanwhile, multi-brand FDI policy continues unchanged:
It would appear then that the BJP, even in government, has not changed its stand on FDI in multi-bran retail, as it is seen capable of creating monopolies in a sector which would destroy local businesses and livelihoods.
In brief, before concluding, let us also take a brief look at how the change in policy on FDI in single-brand retail is going to benefit the economy:
- The reason main reason behind the Cabinet to approve 100 per cent FDI for single-brand retail via the direct route, is to increase the “ease of doing business”.
- The reform will quicken the FDI process as governmental approval is not needed.
- Eased norms will lead to larger volumes of FDI, which in turn would translate into more income and employment generated in the economy.
- Local sourcing norms by which SBRT with more than 51% needed to source 30% of goods value from India were found to favour certain industries against others.
- The reform aims at ensuring the SBRT entity functions smoothly and optimises its operations, and yet, after the stipulated relaxation of 5 years, it must meet the 30% local sourcing norms.
- The reform keeps the long-term interest of the Indian economy in mind, and nobody is being provided a free pass. And this way local producers and traders are not harmed.
- It will ease the process for foreign and Indian brands to be part of the Indian retail story.