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Dharnas at Jantar Mantar as Parliament debates FDI


SHIV SUNNY | New Delhi, December 4, 2012 18:16
Tags : dharna | FDI in retail | Protest | Parliament | debate | Foreign Direct Investment |


Even as Parliament began the debate on FDI in retail on Tuesday, numerous organisations of traders, farmers and other sections of retail trade staged protest against the bill at Jantar Mantar. With support from various political parties including BJP, JD(U) and CPI, trade organisations called for a 36 hours long protest against the alleged draconian provisions of the bill. 
As a mark of protest, the demonstrators wore black gown and waved black flags. Terming the government's efforts in passing the bill as “manipulative politics”, they burnt an effigy labeling it the “Jugaad Rajneeti”.
On November 5 this year, Confederation of All India Traders (CAIT), under the leadership of BJP leader Murli Manohar Joshi had staged a unique mode of protest against FDI. The protestors had got hold of a buffalo calf and played the ‘been’ (pungi) near its ears for more than 30 minutes to symbolise the current relationship between the Congress government and the people. However, the unique protest failed to attract any crowd, instead, Congress’ rally at Pragati Maidan on the same day saw a huge turnout of supporters.
The response on Tuesday was however in sharp contrast to the earlier protest. This time there were more leaders on the occasion, across many political parties and the support of the people was visible. Roads leading up to Jantar Mantar were packed with vehicles and people who were converging at the site. Police faced a horrendous time helping manage the scores of buses which were used to ferry people from different parts of Delhi and the neighbouring Uttar Pradesh and Haryana.
Simultaneous protests were held across numerous other Indian cities. Hundreds of organisations belonging to different retail stakeholders took part in the protests. The other cities saw demonstrations in the form of protest marches, torch processions and human chains. 
While BJP's Sushma Swaraj initiated the debate in Parliament on Foreign Direct Investment in multi-brand retail and lambasted the government, many other leaders outside took chances to come on stage and voice out their words of protest at Jantar Mantar. They alleged that there were major deviations between FDI policy documents laid in Parliament by Commerce Minister on November 25 last year and the notification issued by the government on September 20 this year. They labeled the alleged deviation as the partisan attitude of the government. Among the well known faces who lent their support to the dharna were JD(U) President Sharad Yadav and Communist Party's AB Bardhan.
Apart from this dharna, All India Youth Federation (AIYF) also staged a protest known as 'Parliament Dharna' against the bill and drew crowds in large numbers. Few more smaller and relatively lesser known organisations also took to the sidepaths of Jantar Mantar to show their solidarity with the farmers and retailers.
After a lot of hiccups, it appears that the government has managed to gather the support of its allies. However, it will face a tough time winning in the Rajya Sabha as it is in a distinct minority there. A loss in any of the Houses will give the opposition enough space to demand the rollback of many recent reforms.
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Issue Dated: Feb 5, 2017