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When Left and Right Found Common Ground to Oppose Walmart-Flipkart Deal

Usually up in arms against each other, the two ideological oppositions came together to challenge the assertion that consumers in India will gain with the availability of cheap imported goods that Walmart will bring to the table.

Rounak Kumar Gunjan | News18.com@Rounak_T

Updated:June 4, 2018, 8:13 PM IST
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When Left and Right Found Common Ground to Oppose Walmart-Flipkart Deal
Noted economist Prabhat Patnaik and former BJP MP Shyam Bihari Mishra shared the stage to speak on ill effects of Walmart-Flipkart deal.
New Delhi: It was a rare sight on Monday when Left ideologists and Right wingers shared the same stage and for once, similar opinion, while deliberating over ill-effects of global giant Walmart taking over Filpkart. Usually up in arms against each other, the two ideological oppositions had finally found a common ground to raise their voice against.

Noted economist and left propagator Prabhat Patnaik and former BJP MP Shyam Bihari Mishra were seen sharing the same dais at Women’s Press Club in New Delhi. The two were part of a six member panel speaking on the detrimental effects of the Walmart-Flipkart deal.

Misra, also the president of Bhartiya Udyog Vyapar Mandal, a conglomerate of traders said, “Government should consult traders and first frame policy for domestic e-commerce. The Walmart-Flipkart deal should be shelved. It is also not in line with the Centre’s Make in India thrust. We have written several letters to the Prime Minister’s office but all in vain.”

Last month, Walmart had announced the acquisition of 77 percent stake in Flipkart (which is registered in Singapore) for about USD 16 billion (Rs 1.05 lakh crore) - marking the largest e-commerce deal so far in the country. In India, 100 percent foreign direct investment (FDI) is allowed in e-commerce for marketplaces.

Challenging the assertion that consumers in India will gain with the availability of cheap imported goods that Walmart will bring to the table, Jawahar Lal Nehru (JNU) University professor Patnaik said, “This (the deal) will take India back to the pre-colonial era. Consumers are not a distinct identity from local producers who will be displaced by cheaper imports. With the control of the Indian market by two multi-national retail giants, we will see two distinct processes of de-industrialisation; one of local traders and the other of local producers.”

Traders have been traditionally believed to be loyal voters of the ruling BJP. However, with the government firstly introducing GST and now green-flagging the million dollar deal, a dent in popularity could be on the cards.

“We have been ideological supporters of the BJP since a long time. However, the government should not take us for granted. The worst affected due to this deal will be the small brick-and-mortar retail stores that account for 90 percent of the Indian retail sector. This will be an irreversible change and local producers as well as consumers will be severely hit,” said Mohan Gurnani, president of Chamber of Associations of Maharashtra Industry and Trade.

Over 100 trader organisations also opposed the USD 16-billion Walmart-Flipkart deal.

The associations, including Centre of Indian Trade Unions (CITU) and All India Kisan Sabha (AIKS), released an open statement highlighting the deal's "multifaceted dangers" to the economy, and called for its nullification.
The bodies also argued that allowing the deal to go through would create an American duopoly (Walmart and Amazon) in the Indian retail sector.

The meet came a day after veteran BJP leader Murli Manohar Joshi expressed concerns over the central government ignoring issues raised by an RSS-affiliated organisation against the Flipkart-Walmart deal.

The octogenarian leader who has been marginalised in the party ranks along with LK Advani, was speaking at a discussion hosted by Swadeshi Jagran Manch on the issues arising out of the deal.

The Sangh-affiliate has taken strong opposition to the tie-up between the American retail chain and India's biggest e-commerce platform. The deal has produced a coming together of sorts for those who earlier found it difficult to have common opinions.

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| Edited by: Aakarshuk Sarna
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