Column : Wholesale victory

Dec 06 2012, 01:18 IST
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SummaryThe vote in Parliament shows Indias open to business, as is the political class.

Given all the talk of communal forces during the debate on retail FDI, both inside as well as outside Parliament, it always seemed pretty much a done deal. That, when push came to shove, both the SP and the BSP and perhaps even others would abstain from the vote, to find some way to let the government push the necessary legislation through. And, in any case, as former Lok Sabha secretary general PDT Acharya points out, if the Lok Sabha votes in favour of retail FDI, it doesnt really matter what the Rajya Sabha doesthe details are confusing, those interested can watch the December 4 episode of Karan Thapars Last Word (http://goo.gl/Z8nQH).

But if it was pretty much a done dealCPI(M) leader Sitaram Yechury cited similar instances, on the same show, where the government usually managed to ram its way throughwhy did the BJP and others want the vote? In all likelihood to expose the SP and the BSP as opportunistic dealmakers, going along with them in the anti-FDI campaign and yet allowing the government to push retail FDI through. While its not certain how that will play out, if at all, during the elections, the SP/BSP pragmatism augurs well for economic reforms. Its good news for the government that is desperately trying to drum up the global mood as well as for foreign investors whore looking for signs to show India is once again open to business. As for the so-called opportunism of the SP and the BSP, its important to realise the way the retail FDI proposal was crafted; it was up to the state governments to decide if they wanted it in their states. So neither party is, at one level, being untrue to its convictions.

In any case, make no mistake, the issue was never about the kirana owner, nor was it about the farmer, the poor smelly farmer who BJP leader Sushma Swaraj said may never even be able to sell his produce inside a fancy FDI retail chainwhich means she either thinks Indias cold chain is so developed, fresh produce will be imported, or that Carrefour simply wont have a fresh produce section.

Nor was it particularly about facts. If it was, Swaraj wouldnt have told us McDonalds doesnt buy Indian potatoes for its fries, or that Pepsi backed out of its commitments to Punjab farmers. Both firms have vehemently denied this.

If, as the BJP made it

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