The Congress on Thursday criticised the Narendra Modi government for relaxing sourcing rules of local products, and permitting online sale in single-brand retail, PTI reported. The Opposition party accused the government of serving the interests of international companies.

“The BJP government has done grave damage to the interests of Indian traders and shopkeepers by giving huge relaxation in FDI [Foreign Direct Investment] rules to foreign companies,” said Congress spokesperson Randeep Singh Surjewala.

Surjewala added that the government’s moves were not in consonance with its Startup India and Make In India initiatives. “This decision is against the manufacturing policy implemented in 2011 in the country by the United Progressive Alliance and ‘Make in India’ promoted by the Modi government,” the spokesperson added. “This wrong decision will hurt the business and income of three crore Indian shopkeepers on one hand and the employment of 15 crore workers will also be in peril.”

Digital media companies, which did not have any FDI limits earlier, can now have 26% foreign stakes upon approval, the government announced on Wednesday. Single-brand retailers can now start online sales after the government waived the previous condition of setting up mandatory brick-and-mortar stores.

“Now, the purchase for export is also included in local sourcing,” Surjewala said. “This means, it will no longer be necessary that goods these companies are selling in India be purchased locally. Now onward, if foreign companies buy and export only 30% of India’s goods, then they can sell their entire lot of imported goods in India.” The Congress spokesperson said that instead of helping micro, small and medium enterprises, the government’s move would benefit the multinational firms.

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