Commerce minister Anand Sharma built his case on a government note meant for a group of ministers (GoM) constituted in 2000, when the BJP-led NDA was in power. The GoM was formed to review the policy on FDI in multi-brand retail and decide changes.
Among the excerpts quoted by the minister was one that should ring a bell across the country.
“In this country when organised retail came, when McDonald’s and Kentucky Fried Chicken were allowed — this note states — this debate took place in the country as to what will happen to Bikanerwala, what will happen to Haldiram’s, what will happen to Nathu’s Sweets (a Delhi landmark), what will happen to Nirula’s (one of the first modern fastfood joints in Delhi)?” Sharma told the Lok Sabha on Wednesday.
“But McDonald’s has also come here... they were forced to make aloo tikki. The taste of Indians are their own. No one from outside can cater to the spicy taste of India. Haldiram’s has now reached the whole world. It’s 34 stores have opened in Europe and three in London after that...”
Sushma Swaraj sought to give farming advice to Deepender Hooda, the young Congress MP who was congratulated by the Prime Minister later for his spirited speech. Hooda had promised to harvest two-feet- long potatoes after the Opposition said foreign chains had rejected Indian tubers for being too small for making French fries.
Sushma said: “He says he is the son of a farmer. Son, if you are a son of a farmer, at least understand the difference between a potato and a bottle gourd.” Hooda joined the laughter
Sushma did not forget to settle scores with Lalu Prasad, who made a comment against a BJP member and later withdrew it on the ground it was unparliamentary, during her reply. “Aapko gaanth kholna nahi aata, aur maskari ke alawa kuchh bolna nahi aata (You cannot resolve any problem and cannot speak anything other than poking fun),” Sushma said
As Lalu looked on with the hint of a smile, Sushma added: “Tareekh ki nazron ne voh daur bhi dekha hai. Lamhon ne khata ki thi sadiyon ne saza payi (History is witness to such situations when momentary mistakes have punished generations).”
Shashi Tharoor contested Sushma’s claim that he wanted to participate in the discussion but was disallowed by senior leaders. “In the corridors of Parliament, the Leader of the Opposition struck a smiling conversation, which I replied with a smile,” said Tharoor, who represents the capital of Congress-ruled Kerala that has not supported the FDI decision. He requested Sushma to withdraw the statement.