New Delhi: Proceedings in both houses of parliament were stalled on Tuesday as the BJP took up the issue of international supermarket chain Wal-Mart lobbying in the US to open the way for foreign equity in retail trade in India just as the Congress topbrass met to discuss ways to resolve the logjam.
The Bharatiya Janata Party wanted question hour to be suspended to discuss Wal-Mart reportedly spending Rs.125 crore on lobbying activities in the US, including on issues related to enhanced market access for investment in India.
As soon as both houses met, BJP members started shouting slogans, demanding suspension of question hour and asking the government to clarify how much money the company spent on lobbying in India.
Lok Sabha Speaker Meira Kumar asked members to allow the house to run and said she would give them a chance to raise the issue during the day. But this did not pacify the BJP and they continued the ruckus, forcing the speaker to suspend the house till 12 noon.
Similar scenes were reported from Rajya Sabha, leading to suspension of the upper house for 30 minutes.
Rajya Sabha chairman Hamid Ansari proposed to reschedule Question Hour or "dispense with it entirely" because of frequent disruptions.
The BJP parliamentary board had met in the morning and decided to take up the matter aggressively.
"It was decided that Yashwant Sinha and M. Venkaiah Naidu will raise the issue in the Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha, respectively," BJP leader Ravi Shankar Prasad told reporters.
"We want an independent body to conduct investigation on Wal-Mart's lobbying expenditure, money spent on India discussions," said Prasad.
He said the central government could not keep quiet on the disclosures made, and added that the BJP would continue raising the issue in parliament.
UPA meets to resolve logjam
Soon after Rajya Sabha and Lok Sabha were adjourned this morning, senior UPA leaders, who are members of the Congress Core Group, gathered at the Prime Minister's Office in Parliament House and are understood to have been briefed by Parliamentary Affairs Minister Kamal Nath.
Nath is also believed to have briefed the Congress top brass on the pending bills on financial matters, including the one to amend the banking laws.
Apart from the Prime Minister, Gandhi and Nath, Union Ministers P Chidambaram and Sushilkumar Shinde attended the meeting among others, sources said.