Mumbai, Sept. 18: The BJP may see FDI in multi-brand retail as all about pandering to foreigners but Raj Thackeray has spied in it a leg-up for the son of the soil.
The Maharashtra Navnirman Sena chief today declared “complete support” for the move that he said would create thousands of jobs — but only if local people received priority in recruitment.
Else, he warned, he would not allow foreign companies to open outlets in the state.
“I am serving an early warning that foreign companies are welcome to set up outlets in Maharashtra, but Marathi boys and girls should get priority in employment in these outlets, not migrants from other states,” he said.
“Otherwise, we will not allow them to set up shop. States that have opposed the FDI (he mentioned Bihar) should not complain later. Maharashtra will not carry the burden of their decisions.”
Since Raj is not known to take a stand on national issues, his remarks surprised many.
“I am not an economist but after careful study of the FDI issue, I have come to the conclusion that FDI in retail will benefit farmers — and not only them,” he said.
He dismissed the notion that FDI entry would destroy small retailers, asking: “Where in the world has this happened?”
Raj slammed the protests called on September 20 by the NDA and the Left.
“The bandh is merely opposition for the sake of opposition. My party too is opposed to the UPA government, but good things should be supported,” he said.
Like rival Shiv Sena, an NDA member, Raj’s party has announced it would not participate in the September 20 general strike since any shutdown would inconvenience Ganesh devotees immersing idols on Thursday.
Maharashtra’s biggest public festival begins tomorrow, with Thursday slated to witness the first immersions.
“The leaders in Delhi could have organised the Bharat bandh on any other day, but they chose to do it on Thursday without giving any thought to public sentiments. Would political parties think of enforcing a bandh during Durga Puja in Bengal?” Raj asked.
He also agreed with the UPA government’s rationale for hiking diesel prices but demanded that Maharashtra and other states reduce their taxes on the fuel.
The Shiv Sena has opposed FDI in retail as well as the diesel price hike and the LPG subsidy slash. Although the party has opted out of the September 20 general strike, Uddhav Thackeray and son Aditya led a huge protest against the government decisions on Saturday.
They demanded that government allies such as Sharad Pawar, Mamata Banerjee, Mulayam Singh Yadav and Mayawati stop making empty threats and withdraw support.