New Orleans Secretary of State Hilary after her controversial, chaotic visit to China is stopping by India for 3 days on the way back to the United States. For undisclosed reasons she is going to visit Kolkata on Monday and its new Chief Minister in West Bengal Didi Banjeree, who displaced the Communist government after almost 30 years of successful elections and control of government.
Banjeree has a well known reputation as being pro-poor and populist though obviously her party was not affiliated with the CPM (Communist Party) in West Bengal. She has been an ally of ACORN’s affiliate the India FDI Watch Campaign which has helped coordinate the opposition to opening India up to multi-brand retail without controls and protections. FDI modifications in this sector, if allowed, would open the floodgates to Walmart, Carrefor, Metro, Tesco, and other huge multi-nationals and could adversely impact the 20,000,000 jobs held in this sector by hawkers, traders, and birani shops and others. In the fights thus far Banjeree has stood with us.
Dharmendra Kumar, India FDI Watch Campaign director, alerted me to the Clinton visit because of widespread speculation that her real purpose is not to welcome a woman into power, which is one spin, or make an anti-Communist Cold War point, which is another spin, but to get involved in hard bargaining that Prime Minister Singh has been incapable of doing to muscle up on Banjeree to drop her opposition to the modification proposals. The business press has been full of such speculation:
Frankly with concern that Walmart executives led by current CEO Michael T. Duke may have been involved in extensive bribery in India and China along the lines of the $24 million corruption scandal in Mexico, it would seem the last thing that a US-government official should be doing is carrying water for Walmart. The fact that Hillary spent time in Arkansas and was a former member of the Board of Directors of Walmart should be even more reasons for her to keep Walmart’s mess far away from her mouth, and keep on the subject of welcoming another woman to power. Hilary doesn’t need to be helping Walmart take the livelihood for poor India workers anymore than blessing their efforts to grease palms around the world for their own purposes.