M A I N   N E W S

Walmart lobbying report, quota Bill stall RS
Opposition presses for probe into retail giant’s ‘illegality’, wants statement by PM
Tribune News Service

Ravi Shankar Prasad, BJPNew Delhi, December 10
The Rajya Sabha witnessed uproarious scenes today with the BJP raising a storm over allegations that Walmart had indulged in corruption to enter the Indian retail market and the Samajwadi Party forcing adjournment of the House over the quota in promotions Bill.

After two adjournments in the pre-lunch session, when the House met at 1400 hours, SP members came near the Chairman's podium and raised slogans against the Bill seeking reservation in promotions. “Reservation in promotions will not work,” they shouted. The Bill, a major demand of the Bahujan Samaj Party, seeks to provide reservations in promotions to scheduled castes and scheduled tribes.

Sitaram Yechury, CPM leaderBJP and JD-U members were on their feet demanding a statement from the Prime Minister on a disclosure by Walmart that it had spent about Rs 125 crore since 2008 on its various lobbying activities, including on the issues related to "enhanced market access for investment in India".

Rajya Sabha Deputy Chairman PJ Kurien urged SP members to return to their seats but his pleas fell on deaf ears. “This is unbecoming (of members),” he said before adjourning the House till tomorrow.

Earlier, bedlam prevailed in the Upper House over reports that Walmart had lobbied in the US to open the way for foreign equity in retail in India. Opposition members led by Ravi Shankar Prasad (BJP) claimed that the decision to open up retail trade to 51 per cent foreign equity was taken after a bribe was paid.

Several Opposition members demanded that the decision to open up retail trade to foreign equity be put on hold until an inquiry was conducted into the charges of lobbying. “All major newspapers today have reports that Walmart, in its lobbying disclosure report, has said Rs 125 crore was spent on lobbying," Prasad said.

Janata Dal (United) leader Shivanand Tiwari urged the chair to call the PM for a clarification. Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs Rajeev Shukla then said he would convey the matter to the minister concerned.

The angry Opposition continued shouting and demanding a clarification, forcing the Deputy Chairman to first adjourn the House briefly for 10 minutes. When the House met again, it was adjourned till 2 pm and then finally for the day.

Though the issue did not figure in the Lok Sabha today, the Opposition has decided to rake it up there tomorrow. "It is a very, very serious issue. It has been raised in Rajya Sabha today. We propose to raise it in Lok Sabha tomorrow," senior BJP leader Yashwant Sinha told reporters.

(With PTI inputs)

Political storm

  • Walmart, in a disclosure filed with the US Senate, said it spent about Rs 125 crore since 2008 on various lobbying activities, including on the issues related to "enhanced market access for investment in India"
  • BJP, CPM, CPI, SP, JD-U, Trinamool Congress, AGP and AIADMK used the issue to target the government over its decision to allow 51% retail FDI
  • Terming the corruption allegations “entirely false”, Bharti Walmart said the amount was a “compilation of expenses associated with staff, association dues, consultants and contributions spent in the US”





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