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Protests not to deter retail says Mittal

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The ongoing protests and prevailing political uncertainty would not impact on the retail sector, said leading industrialist Sunil Bharti Mittal who is set to launch a joint venture with American giant Wal-Mart.

“This is a democracy and all these protests and political developments do take place and it would not affect retail in anyway,” Mittal told Indiaretailing after receiving ‘Outstanding Business Leader’ award from the Associated Chamber of Commerce (AASOCHAM) at a glittering function here Monday night.

“It is indeed an honour to be getting this award,” said Mittal, who heads rival chamber, Confederation of Indian Industry (CII).

Asked whether the protest planned in Mumbai on Wednesday by an anti-retail group against organized retail would in anyway deter the big retailers, he said “everyone has a right to express his or her views and this would not affect us in anyway.”

On the status of the joint venture with Wal-Mart, he said “it is through” though declined to elaborate on the nitty-gritty of the deal. The multinational is to launch cash-and-carry venture in partnership with Mittal’s Bharti.

Opposition to the opening up of $330 billion retail sector has come from various political quarters, and more vehemently from the key UPA ally, the Left parties. In fact, even Congress president Sonia Gandhi had expressed reservations against opening up of the sector.

“This award is being given to Mittal for his personal achievements as an entrepreneur. His being a CII president has nothing to do with it,” Assocham Secretary General D S Rawat said.

The chamber had conferred this award last year on Mukesh Ambani who heads the Reliance group that is also into retail – Reliance Retail.

CII, FICCI and Assocham are the country’s three main industry lobby groups and have been competitors in attracting companies under their banners.

Sri Krishna

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