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Uproar in Parliament over Wal-Mart's lobbying

Last updated on: December 10, 2012 16:52 IST

The issue of foreign direct investment in retail came to haunt the government again in Parliament with a united Opposition demanding an inquiry and reply from Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on reports of Wal-Mart spending huge money to lobby for entry into the Indian market.

Forcing two adjournments in the Rajya Sabha before lunch, members from Bharatiya Janata Party, Communist Party of India-Marxist, CPI, Samajwadi Party, Janata Dal-United, Trinamool Congress, Asom Gana Parishad and All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam said the measure should be withdrawn as "corruption" has come to fore now because lobbying is illegal in India.

Raising the issue during Zero Hour, Ravishankar Prasad (BJP) said apprehensions were raised earlier also about Wal-Mart spending huge money to lobby for entering the Indian market, which has now been proved true.

"Wal-Mart has in its lobbying disclosure report to the US Senate said it has spent Rs 125 crore on lobbying and $3 million have been spent in 2012 itself for entering the Indian market.

"Lobbying is illegal in India. Lobbying is a kind of bribe. If Wal-Mart has said that hundreds of crores of rupees were spent in India, then it is a kind of bribe. Government should tell who was given this bribe. This raises a question mark on the implementation of FDI in retail," Prasad said.

He was supported by members from other Opposition parties with TMC leader D Bandopadhyay waving a newspaper report and CPI-M member P Rajeeve asking for an "independent inquiry" into the whole episode alleging that there are some reports saying Wal-Mart invested money even before FEMA was amended.

"This is bribery," he said as the Opposition members shouted slogans in favour of withdrawing FDI.

Amid din, SP members trooped into the Well shouting slogans against the government's move to bring reservation in promotion for SCs/STs. Government has listed the Constitution (117th Amendment) Bill, 2012 for this purpose in the House on Monday.

Earlier, Opposition members rejected the response of Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs Rajiv Shukla on the FDI issue that he will bring the matter to the notice of the minister concerned. They insisted on a reply by the prime minister.

T Siva (DMK) was also on his feet.

Minister of State in PMO V Narayanasamy was heard saying "What more they (the Opposition) want, when he (Shukla) has said that he will bring it to the notice of the minister concerned".   

The issue, much to the discomfiture of the government, saw the Opposition uniting again against FDI, even as motions brought by it got defeated in both Houses last week with government securing numbers with the help of BSP and SP.

While BSP members today kept seated, those from SP were on their feet joining the issue with BJP and Left.

Sitaram Yechury (CPI-M) urged the Chair to ask the government to consider the matter very important and come up with an answer.

D Raja (CPI) said a letter has already been written to the prime minister in this regard.

Ravishankar Prasad (BJP) also reminded that Leader of the Opposition Arun Jaitley had talked in detail about it but "then the government said that there was no such thing".

Shivanand Tiwari (JD-U) said prime minister should reply.

The House was first adjourned for ten minutes. But similar scenes were witnessed when it reassembled. Adding to the pandemonium, SP members trooped into the Well on promotion in reservation issue forcing the Chair to adjourn the House till 2 pm.

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