New Delhi, Dec 10: The Walmart lobbying issue triggered a political storm with the BJP today demanding a statement from Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in Parliament and the CPI-M and SP joining it in seeking an independent probe into the “serious allegations” of bribery.
BJP said the Prime Minister should make a statement on the issue in Parliament as the reports coming out today were “serious” and raised questions on the country’s image.
As per the lobbying disclosure reports filed by Wal-Mart with the US Senate, the company has spent close to USD 25 million (about Rs 125 crore) since 2008 on its various lobbying activities, including on the issues related to “enhanced market access for investment in India”.
“BJP would like the PM to explain why he did not initiate inquiry and what he proposed to do now when it has become evident that multi-brand retail FDI has come on the shoulders of lobbying and bribery,” BJP chief spokesperson Ravi Shankar Prasad said.
His party colleague Venkaiah Naidu said, “We demand that Prime Minister should come to the House and make a statement on the issue. It should also be followed up with an independent inquiry.”
“The disclosure in US senate about Wal-Mart that they had spent Rs 125 cr in lobbying including India for creating new market is official confirmation that Wal-Mart has done lobbying in India. Lobbying is banned in India,” Prasad said.
Naidu said, “Government cannot keep quiet and Parliament cannnot remain silent into these serious allegations...It has raised many questions. It is a question of India’s image and the image of its Parliament.”
Also demanding an inquiry into the issue, CPI-M leader Sitaram Yechury said, “”We are not saying who has taken money or not. What we are saying is that Wal-Mart itself is saying that it has spent the money. There are cases of corruption in the court. So government should inquire into it.”
SP leader Mohan Singh also said, “government should inquire into it as who are responsible for it or involved in it.”
BJP said the Prime Minister should explain how lobbying for Wal-Mart was allowed in India despite a ban on it. The BJP also said that it will continue to raise the issue in Parliament and demand the government’s response.
The Rajya Sabha was adjourned for the day after repeated disruptions over reports of Wal-Mart spending huge money to lobby for entry into the Indian market.