Congress raises red flag over FDI ease in Defence, Media

SansadTV Bureau

FILE photo of Prime Minister Narendra Modi with Union Defense minister Manohar Parrikar. Photo – PTI

Stating that “there is no national consensus” on easing of FDI norms in the defence sector, Congress party on Friday strongly opposed Modi government’s move to ease the Foreign Direct Investment in the “sensitive” sector like defence. BJP-led Central government had on November 11 relaxed norms in the defence sector by allowing FDI up to 49 per cent under automatic route and beyond that through the FIPB’s approval.

The government has also done away with the earlier requirement of mandatory permission from the Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS) beyond 49 per cent.

“We make it clear this will not be supported, there is no national consensus. We are for FDI, we are for FDI in defence also but we cannot have those checks removed in a sensitive sector like defence. We cannot have scrutiny and cabinet committee approval done away with,” senior Congress leader Anand Sharma said.

The Deputy leader of the principal opposition party in the Upper House also stressed that erstwhile Congress-led UPA government had increased FDI in defence to 49 per cent on a strict condition that there would be scrutiny by the Foreign Investment Promotion Board (FIPB) and Cabinet Committee of Security (CCS) approval.

“This government has dispensed with any FIPB scrutiny or CCS approval for FDI up to 49 per cent and put it under automatic route,” Sharma said, adding that his party opposes this decision firmly.

Anand Sharma firmly reiterated that the government is “obliged” to answer the Parliament on this issue.

“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. And Parliament alone would ratify those notifications, both Houses independently,” he said.

Besides Defence sector, Congress party raised red flag over the government decision to open media sector for the FDI.

“We equally have concerns about the opening up of the media sector, particularly the news and current affairs. In raising the FDI, it shall be opposed. 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 added.

The senior opposition leader also claimed that it is perhaps the first time that such decisions had been taken without cabinet approval.

Adding further on to its criticism of the government and in particular Prime Minister Modi, Congress dubbed PM’s remarks in London that “intolerance will not be accepted in any part of the country” as doublespeak for he is yet to take action against the members of the BJP over their controversial statements off late.

“It is important to remind the Prime Minister that he has neither condemned, nor acted upon number of incidents which involve his party colleagues, his ministers, the leaders of BJP and the RSS,” Mr. Sharma told the press.

Responding to a question at a press interaction in London on Thursday, Modi had said, “India does not accept intolerance even if it is one or two or three incidents.”

PM Modi is currently on a three-day visit to UK.

(With inputs from the PTI)