Walmart lobbying issue rocks Parliament for second day

Walmart lobbying issue rocks Parliament for second day

BT Online Bureau   New Delhi     Last Updated: December 11, 2012  | 13:21 IST

Parliament was rocked by the Walmart lobbying issue for the second day on Tuesday that led the government to declare that it had no hesitation in ordering a probe into reports that the retail giant had spent money to further its case in India.

"We have no hesitation in having an inquiry to get to the facts of the matter. We will announce further steps in the House today," Parliamentary Affairs Minister Kamal Nath said in the Lok Sabha seeking to douse the Opposition ire on the issue.

The government "views the reports (on Walmart) with the utmost concern," Nath said.

His statement came close on the heels of senior BJP leader Yashwant Sinha demanding a time-bound judicial inquiry into the reports that Walmart engaged lobbying firms to get entry into India and "spent money here".

The inquiry should be completed within 60 days and people should know who has been bribed and how much has he got, Sinha said amid cries of 'shame, shame' from the Opposition benches.

Noting that there have been "gross financial irregularities" in Walmart leading to suspension of its Chief Financial Officer in India and seven other officers and a probe is on against them in the US, Sinha said "this has sullied the dignity of our country."

"These disclosures have made it clear that they have given money to people here to gain entry in India. An inquiry is going on in the US on this issue. But there is no inquiry in India. People have taken money and are sitting tight," the BJP leader said.

Trouble broke out when Speaker Meira Kumar asked members to associate themselves with Sinha and called Kamal Nath to respond. This led to Left and Trinamool Congress members, who had submitted adjournment notices on the issue, to storm the Well demanding that they too be allowed to speak.

The issue created uproar in the Rajya Sabha too which saw two adjournments with BJP members, supported by members of the Left parties and Trinamool Congress, raising the issue.

No violation of laws in lobbying by Walmart: US

The US has said the Walmart did not violate any American law as far as the matter is concerned amid controversy over reports that the global retail giant spent nearly Rs 125 crore for lobbying with lawmakers to get access to Indian market.

"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," State Department spokesperson Victoria Nuland said on Monday, categorically dismissing allegations by Indian opposition parties in this regard.

Nuland was responding to questions on charges by opposition parties in India that Walmart spent huge sums in four years in lobbying before the US Congress, including on those related to enhanced market access for investment in India.

Meanwhile, Walmart has also denied of being involved in any wrongdoing.

With PTI inputs

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