26 September, 2020

Anti-Anti-People?

Popular demand for FDI in retail in Punjab startles the ruling BJP-Akali Dal

Prabhjot Singh Gill
Anti-Anti-People?
outlookindia.com
-0001-11-30T00:00:00+05:53

Nothing has bestirred the green acres of Punjab in recent days as much as the Centre’s move on FDI in multi-brand retail. It is fast pitching mainstream farm organisations and progressive farmers against the ruling Akali Dal-BJP government that publicly opposes FDI. But the ruling dispensation—or at least the Akalis, who have a base in rural areas—knows that withstanding pressure from their constituency will not be easy. Signs of a wavering Akali leadership are already visible.

One of the first to pitch for FDI in multi-brand retail has been Ajmer Singh Lakhowal, an Akali supporter who heads the Bharatiya Kisan Union, and the Punjab State Agricultural and Marketing Board. Deviating from his party’s stand, he believes “big MNCs can build agricultural infrastructure in rural areas like cold storage chains”, which will enable farmers to cut wastage and sell more. “We missed the IT revolution due to militancy and there is no major industry in Punjab; we just cannot afford to miss the FDI bus now,” he says. Except left-leaning...

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