Cong: Won’t support move to liberalise FDI in defence

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NEW DELHI: Congress red-flagged the BJP government’s move to liberalize FDI norms in defence sector, saying the party would not support the move as the checks for the sensitive sector had been removed, a stance that raises prospects of confrontation in the winter session of Parliament starting later this month.

The opposition party also slammed Prime Minister Narendra Modi, saying his remark that intolerance will not be accepted was “doublespeak” as he was a tacit “endorser” and nothing prevented him from taking action against hotheads within the ruling BJP.

“It is important to remind the PM that he has neither condemned, nor acted upon a number of incidents which involve his party colleagues, his ministers, the leaders of BJP and the RSS,” Congress spokesman Anand Sharma said.

He said since Modi had not taken any action, the only inference or conclusion that could be drawn was that he was very much a tacit “endorser”.

“It is his characteristic style and an exercise in hypocrisy and double speak,” Sharma added.

Opposing the move to ease FDI in defence and media sector, the Congress spokesman said, “The government has dispensed with any Foreign Investment Promotion Board (FIPB) scrutiny or Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS) approval for FDI up to 49% and put it under automatic route.”

The party said the government has to seek Parliament’s nod for its FDI policy decision as against the impression being given that these were just executive decisions.

“Once the FDI policy decisions are made, it’s mandatory that RBI will come up with a FEMA notification, which the government is obliged to table in both Houses of Parliament,” Sharma said, adding that Parliament alone would ratify these notifications, both Houses independently.

The party also raised concern about the opening up of the media sector, particularly news and current affairs. “We don’t want to create monopolies, we don’t want foreign media moguls to come and control Indian media, particularly news and current affairs,” Sharma said.

He pointed out that UPA-2 had increased FDI in defence to 49% but with the rider that it would be subject to scrutiny by FIPB and CCS approval.

Sharma said, “We are for FDI, we are for FDI in defence also but we cannot have those checks removed in a sensitive sector like defence.”

He said it was also perhaps the first time such decisions had been taken without cabinet approval, which would be acquired later.

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