UPA promises Wal-Mart lobbying probe

Last Updated: Tue, Dec 11, 2012 08:48 hrs

New Delhi:  In Rajya Sabha, Kamal Nath said the issue of Wal-Mart lobbying is as much as matter of concern for the ruling party as the Opposition.

He said the government is ready for an inquiry. 

He tried to make the same statement in Lok Sabha after it reconvened but over a din it could not be heard and Lok Sabha was adjourned second time on Tuesday. 

Earlier, the opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) stepping up the heat over the issue demanded government explanation. 

Both Rajya Sabha and Lok Sabha were adjourned on Tuesday first over a ruckus over Wal-Mart's report to the US Senate that it spent the money on lobbying in India. 

BJP wanted suspension of Question Hour and instead debate on the issue.

While lobbying is a crime in India, it is legal in USA. USA has said there was nothing illegal in their country over the Wal-Mart lobbying.

The BJP demanded that the government must first come explain whether Wal-Mart lobbied with officials in India for entry into the market.

The US State Department spokesperson Victoria Nuland said, "On the US side, I don't have any reason to believe that we have a violation of US law here. With regard to the Indian side, I'll refer you to them."

"The report which some of these allegations have cited is a regularly required report for the US Government as part of our open government transparency in governance requirements," she said.

Earlier on Monday, while Parliament witnessed uproarious scenes over the disclosure report filed by the Wal-Mart before US Senate, the Congress party that spearheads the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) rejected the allegation that politicians were bribed here.

"No lobbying took place in India," said Congress leader and Minister of State for Planning and Parliamentary Affairs V Narayanasamy.

He said if there is any lobbying in USA, where it is legal, then they are not responsible for the same.

Congress said the report does not talk of any politician or question them.

Political opponents and even supporters of UPA were ballistic over the report and have demanded a statement of the Prime Minister over the issue.

BJP Rajya Sabha member Ravi Shankar Prasad raising the issue at Zero Hour Monday said it (the money spent on lobbying in India) is bribe and it should be probed.

Prasad said lobbying is illegal in India and the government should explain who got the money.

The lobbying disclosure reports filed by Wal-Mart with the US Senate, suggests it has spent nearly $ 25 million , equivalent to Rs 125 crores, since 2008 on its various lobbying activities, including on "enhanced market access for investment in India".

Left Front and Trinamool Congress also attacked the government over the report of Wal-Mart inside Rajya Sabha.

The ruling United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government last week won an FDI in multi brand retail vote in both Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha, clearing the final hurled in allowing the Wal-Mart and other such companies to enter Indian market and hold majority stake.

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