Even as union commerce minister Anand Sharma plans to fast-track clearance of FDI investment proposals in the multi-brand retail sector, the Opposition has demanded an independent probe into the Rs125-crore lobbying expense admittedly incurred by global retail giant Walmart for pushing its cause in India.
The entire opposition raised this issue in Rajya Sabha, forcing two adjournments. “Lobbying is not legal in India. It actually amounts to soft bribe. If Walmart can make a disclosure in the US Senate, there is nothing that should prevent the government from making public as to who were the recipients of this money,” said BJP’s deputy leader in Rajya Sabha Ravi Shankar Prasad.
Supporting the demand for an inquiry, CPI-M leader Sitaram Yechury said that there are cases of corruption, and the government must look into the matter.”
The Congress was dismissive of the bribery allegation. “The manner in which Walmart has spent its money, is exclusively their business. They will respond to these questions in the US Senate,” said party spokesperson PC Chacko.