The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) on Monday demanded an investigation into the alleged spending in India by the global retail giant Wal-Mart for lobbying, and sought an explanation from Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh on the issue.
Quoting media reports, BJP chief spokesperson Ravi Shankar Prasad said the retail giant had spent 125 crore rupees in India for lobbing since 2008.
Asserting that the Prime Minister should clarify on the issue, Prasad said Wal-Mart should not be allowed to open its shop in India till the investigation is complete.
Prasad, who is the Deputy Leader of Opposition in the Rajya Sabha, earlier said that lobbying was not allowed in India, and added that Wal-Mart indulged in bribery.
"It has been officially confirmed that Wal-Mart Company has indulged in lobbying in India, or in simple terms indulged in bribery. Lobbying is not allowed in India as per law. We raised the issue in the debate in the parliament. Doubts are being raised in various fields, which is why we stated inside and outside the Parliament that this entire matter must be probed. Why was this lobbying allowed?" asked Prasad.
"Now the fact of lobbying cannot be denied because they have accepted this in the American Senate that they have lobbied in India and spent money on it," he added.
Minister of State in Prime Minister's Office V. Narayanasamy defended the Centre, and denied that the government benefitted from any lobbying by Wal-Mart in India.
"It is a private organisation. Our government has got nothing to do with that. In fact the lobbying is legally allowed in the United States. In our country there is no lobbying. In fact from our government's side, Anand Sharma the honourable minister will give a detailed version if it is required, because when the issue was raised in the Rajya Sabha, the honourable minister for parliamentary affairs, Rajeev Shukla made it very clear the government came to know of it and the government will attend to it and apart from that, we will convey the sentiments of the members to the honourable minister Anand Sharma," he said.
The Rajya Sabha witnessed repeated disruptions today on the lobbying by Walmart issue.
The opposition members, who quoted a newspaper report to highlight the issue, sought an immediate discussion.
The media report had claimed that Walmart had lobbied with US lawmakers for the last four years to facilitate their entry into the Indian retail market.
It claimed that the company had spent 25 million dollars as per a report submitted in US senate. The amount is equivalent to Rs. 125 crore.
The lobbying by Wal-Mart in India disclosure comes just days after the Congress-led UPA Government won a vote in both houses of Parliament on its decision to allow Foreign Direct Investment or FDI in multi-brand retail.