The Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP’s) prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi on Friday said any decision on foreign direct investment (FDI) — not only retail but all sectors — needed a rethink, particularly its potential impact on the domestic manufacturing sector.
“We need to look at the question of FDI from a different perspective. We have to protect the manufacturing sector. If we are unable to protect the manufacturing sector and small-scale industries, our youth’s future will be destroyed,” Modi told CNBC-TV18 in an interview. Asked about his party’s opposition to FDI in multi-brand retail, Modi chose to dwell on the larger issue of FDI, which he said should be looked at in a more holistic way than the retail point of view alone.
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The 63-year-old leader, generally considered an industry-friendly politician, disagreed that his economic vision was a right-wing one. “My economic vision is pro-people. You can paint it the way you want... you can dress it up in whatever clothes you like,” he said.
Modi, who has followed a punishing schedule of addressing public rallies since being named BJP’s prime ministerial candidate on September 13, also tried to dispel the impression that he was against subsidies meant for the poor. He clarified he favoured more effective utilisation of subsidies.
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He also disagreed with the view that loss-making public-sector undertakings (PSUs) should be privatised. Modi, also the Gujarat chief minister, said his experience in the state taught him existing PSU employees could revive sick units if enough faith was reposed in them.
“The view that PSUs are nikamma (inefficient) has caused much damage," he said, adding PSUs should be allowed to recover from their debts.
The BJP leader said his party supported early implementation of the Goods and Services Tax (GST) regime but criticised the ruling United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government's stance of not keeping states in the loop while taking decisions that affected them. He reiterated his willingness to improve Centre-state relations and work towards increased federalism.
Modi said his government would focus on giving sops to India's manufacturing sector to encourage growth. "We will not reduce subsidies and no crony-capitalism will be tolerated," he said, adding he was open to meeting industrialists in public, unlike most politicians who did so behind closed doors, as he had no personal vested interest. The BJP leader also countered Congress Vice-President Rahul Gandhi's criticism of he being friendly to corporate houses. He said it was incorrect that he would do anything if the corporate sector wanted it. "The poor will continue to control the coffers of India. Our policies will aim to pull the poor out of poverty as quickly as possible, and not to continue keeping them there," Modi said.
The Gujarat chief minister dismissed the notion of a 100-day agenda to solve India's economic problems. Modi said running a government was "serious business" and fixing deadlines was "by and large part of short-cut politics" for garnering media publicity. He said he would not fix any such deadlines and request the people to judge his government's work at the end of its five-year term.
Modi also criticised the tendency towards centralisation. He said it was a wrong approach to think a county like India could be run from one office, the Prime Minister's Office. He said decentralisation would ensure speedier functioning. "I am a chief minister who has little work. I have a competent team handling everything efficiently. I haven't had any instance in the past 14 years as Gujarat CM where I have had to call my secretaries," Modi claimed.
Modi’s views on various issues
ON FOREIGN DIRECT INVESTMENT
We need to look at the question of FDI from a different perspective. We have to protect India’s manufacturing sector. If we fail, our youth’s future will be destroyed
ON PRO-CORPORATE IMAGE
My economic vision is pro-people. You can paint it the way you want...
ON PSUs’ LIBERTY
The view that PSUs are nikamma (inefficient) has caused much damage... they should be allowed to recover from their debts
ON GOODS & SERVICES TAX
Will support early implementation of the GST regime... states should be kept in the loop while taking decisions that affect them
We will not reduce subsidies and no crony-capitalism will be tolerated...I am open to meeting industrialists in public, as I have no personal vested interest
Running a govt is serious business and fixing deadlines is, by and large, part of short-cut politics for publicity. I’d fix no such deadlines and request the people to judge me at the end of my govt’s five-year term