Ahead of a government meeting to review its foreign direct investment (FDI) policy today, the Congress took a swipe at Prime Minister Narendra Modi and asked him not to relegate the opportunity to "photo-ops" and to take measures to boost oversea inflows. Congress's communications department in-charge Randeep Surjewala said his party-led UPA government had taken several measure to liberalise the economy and boost investment, but Modi and the BJP had "virulently opposed" FDI in retail in 2012. "We hope that the prime minister will move beyond rhetoric to ensure growth in the investment climate in India. We also hope the current meeting will also not be relegated to photo-ops and platitude," he said. Surjewala said there were reports that the government had been considering relaxing FDI norms in retail and bring FDI in single-brand retail under the automatic route. He said the Congress permitted 51 per cent FDI in multi- brand retail in metropolitan cities without hurting Indian producers, small-scale industries, and wholesale and retail trade. But Modi, who was the chief minister of Gujarat then, had opposed it, he said. Surjewala quoted Modi as saying then, "It (FDI in retail) will immensely harm small shopkeepers, hit the domestic manufacturers and create joblessness.
It will also mean that cheap goods produced outside will be dumped in our country." On December 2, 2012, the BJP moved a motion in the Lok Sabha opposing 51 per cent FDI in multi-brand retail, but it was defeated, the Congress leader said. On March 7, 2013, the then Leader of the Opposition and present Finance Minister Arun Jaitley had stated that the BJP would fight against FDI in retail "till its last breath", he said. "We have seen a lot of talk on investment, but minimum results in the three years of the BJP government. No wonder that over 71 FDI proposals running into a few billion USD have been pending on the table of the prime minister since 2015. That is his commitment to ease of doing business, he said. This "spoke volumes" about ease of doing business, he said. "What is even more shocking is that private investment is the lowest in last 25 years," Surjewala said. He said, "We are awaiting what the prime minister seeks to do and we will watch it closely.