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Walmart row : BJP seeks judicial inquiry, Kamal Nath agrees to inquiry
Last Updated : 11 Dec 2012 12:54:10 PM IST
Parliament adjourned
Walmart lobbying :Govt to make statement in Parliament


Union Minister Kamal Nath said the govt is ready for probe into reports that Walmart spent Rs 125 crore on lobbying after Yashwant Sinha sought judicial inquiry.


The Lok Sabha resumed but with chaos reigning. BJP’s Yashwant Sinha demanded probe into the Wal-Mart report. He said it is obvious that money was eaten up here in India. Only a time bound judicial inquiry could reveal the truth, he added.

"It is sad that while America is conductiing inquiry against the Wal mart for givig out bribe in India, we in India are blissfully ignoring the same. Its a matter of national shame", he said

Referring to US he further said “Their system is not opaque like ours. It is because of the transparency of the US Parliamentary system that we know that Wal Mart has spent money in India to ensure an entry into the retail market,” he said.

“The question is who has received the money,” he said.

The BJP has demanded a time bound judicial inquiry into the matter which will give its report in 60 days.

Meanwhile in the Rajya Sabha, Parliamentary Affairs Minister Kamal Nath said that the government is open to discussion on the issue and said he could make a further statement on the issue.

“It is not as much a matter of concern for the Opposition as it is for the government and we are open to a discussion on the matter,” Nath said.

BJP and the Left Front joined hands to collectively take on the government, demandingan inquiry into reports that Walmart had spent Rs 125 crore on lobbying with US lawmakers to facilitate its expansion into markets including India over the past four years

Walmart lobbying :Govt to make statement in Parliament

In an effort to break the deadlock in Parliament, the UPA government said it was ready to make a statement on the Wal-Mart lobbying issue.

The Lok Sabha was adjourned after an uproar over the Walmart report as the Bharatiya Janata Party raised the issue and demanded an independent inquiry. In the Rajya Sabha,  BJP had given notices for suspension of the Question Hour.The party has been demanding an independent inquiry into this after reports of global retail giant Walmart lobbying US lawmakers to get into India. BJP leader Yashwant Sinha will raise the issue in the Lok Sabha.

Sources said Union Commerce and Industries Minister Anand Sharma may make a statement in Parliament today on the Wal-Mart lobbying issue.

Naidu told reporters outside Parliament House that the party would not allow the Question Hour to function if the government did not meet its demand. "We will seek suspension of Question Hour in both Housesof Parliament today," he said.

The BJP Parliamentary board meeting has ended, and it has been decided to raise the Wal-Mart lobbying report in both houses of Parliament. The party has already given notice for the suspension of question hour. Always an ominous sign, because that is often the precursor to sloganeering and adjournment.

Speaking to reporters after the parliamentary meeting, BJP spokesman Venkiah Naidu said, “In the US lobbying may be legal, but in India it is not. We want an independent probe in to the matter”.

The issue of Wal-Mart lobbying promising to create further trouble by pressing its demand for a probe and a statement by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.

Barely two days after the ruling United Progressive Alliance won a vote on foreign direct investment (FDI) in multi-brand retail, the issue came back to haunt the government as the Rajya Sabha witnessed ruckus over Wal-Mart’s disclosures to the US Senate that it has spent money on lobbying for entry into Indian market.

Almost the entire Opposition, except the Bahujan Samaj Party, were up in arms as media reports said the retail chain had spent close to $25 million (about Rs 125 crore) since 2008 on lobbying activities, including on the issues related to "enhanced market access for investment in India".

In the last quarter ended September 30, 2012, the company spent $ 1.65 million (about Rs 10 crore) on lobbying, which included “discussions related to FDI in India”. As per the disclosure reports, the company has continuously lobbied for its entry into India since 2008, except for a few quarters in 2009. The issue is likely disrupt Parliament in the future.

The Opposition demanded a probe into allegations of bribery. They also sought to keep in abeyance the FDI in retail decision till the probe is over. They did not allow the Rajya Sabha to function as the government rejected their demand for a statement from the  prime minister on the issue.

The entire Opposition, including the BJP, CPM, CPI, TMC, JD-U and the AIDMK was on their feet to support BJP deputy leader Ravishanakar Prasad’s demand that the government should speak on it.   

“Lobbying is illegal in India. It is kind of bribery and the government should reveal who has  received bribe,” Prasad said. Since the disclosure has put a question mark on the  entry of multi-brand retail, the entire thing should be stopped till the probe is over.

Prasad lamented that at a time when “we are talking of floor-management,” a fund-management was going on in the US for an entry of Wal-Mart into India.

Opposition leaders Sitaram Yechury (CPM), Shivanand Tiwari (JD-U), D Raja (CPI), Sukhendu Roy (TMC), Mohan Singh (SP),  Shashi Bhushan Behra (BJD) and others supported his demand.

The assurance by Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs Rajeev Shukla and MoS in Personnel V Narayansamy that the minister concerned would be informed could not calm down tempers.  Deputy Chairman PJ Kurien said, “Do not expect that the Prime Minister should come for everything.” The House was adjourned thrice before it was  adjourned for the day.

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