New Delhi: The issue of FDI 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 Walmart spending huge money to lobby for entry into the Indian market.
Forcing two adjournments in the Rajya Sabha before lunch, members from BJP, CPM, CPI, SP, JD-U, Trinamool Congress, AGP and AIADMK said the measure should be withdrawn as "corruption" has come to fore now because lobbying is illegal in India.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.
"Walmart 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 Walmart 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.
The opposition member demanded halting the decision to allow FDI in retail and initiation of an inquiry into the case.
He was supported by members from other opposition parties with TMC leader D Bandopadhyay waving a newspaper report and CPM 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.
The opposition was reacting to media report that global retail giant Walmart — waiting for years to open its supermarkets in India — had been lobbying with the US lawmakers since 2008 to facilitate its entry into the highly lucrative Indian market.
The irked opposition continued shouting and demanding a clarification, forcing Deputy Chairman P J Kurien to adjourn the upper house for the day.
In the last quarter ended September 30, 2012 itself, Walmart spent $1.65 million (about Rs 10 crore) on various lobbying issues, which included "discussions related to FDI in India". During the quarter, Walmart lobbied for its case with the US Senate, the US House of Representatives, the US Trade.