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AAP flies into blunt Gopi

Jan. 15: Capt. Gopinath, India’s budget airline pioneer who recently joined the Aam Aadmi Party, today asked the party to desist from “cheap and populist measures” like blocking FDI in retail and firm up its stand on substantial issues that will create jobs and wealth.

“The AAP is unwittingly also playing into the hands of Indian oligopolies who were opposing FDI in retail so that they could have a monopoly like the Birlas had on Ambassador cars,” said Gopinath who joined the party less than a fortnight ago on January 3.

The AAP government in Delhi had recently told the Centre that it was withdrawing permission given by the earlier administration for FDI in multi-brand retail in the state.

“The AAP is running in danger of being branded like other political parties of resorting to cheap and populist measures and opposing for the sake of opposing,” Gopinath added.

He blamed “a BJP lobby” of small traders for whipping up the fear that they would drown under the weight of global retail chains.

“No retail corporation can shake our Udupi hotels or mom-and-pop groceries. Even in the West, the corner store thrives. No Pizza Hut has dislodged Italian eateries,” he said.

Gopinath, who applauded Kejriwal and his colleagues for “tirelessly and fearlessly” building the party into a robust outfit, said the AAP should not become a single-agenda party.

“The AAP must realise that we need to build not only a ‘corruption-free’ India but also an economically strong and vibrant India which ensures millions of entrepreneurs, not just big ‘crony capitalists’, create wealth and jobs, and see that the benefits of better standards of living and job opportunities percolate deep into the bowels of the country instead of the teeming millions hankering after cushy government jobs which offer an opportunity to make easy money on the side,” he said.

He advised the party to step back and ponder. “The AAP must step back a little and take its time and come out with a long-term vision for India on economy, fiscal policy, defence and foreign affairs that will create a stable India which can remove poverty and improve living standards.”

Kejriwal was not available for comment tonight. But AAP leader Prashant Bhushan said in response to a question: “Capt. Gopinath is a free man, he was not invited to be a member of AAP. He joined after filling a form and paying a fee like any other ordinary member. He is not part of any executive body of the party. The party need not change its stand because of his views.”

However, Bhushan left the door ajar by adding that “it is not impossible that we may take a view variant from the stand in Delhi”.