Under pressure from the Opposition, the United Progressive Alliance Government on Tuesday assured both the Houses of Parliament that it had no hesitation in holding a probe into reports that retail giant Walmart spent Rs 125 crore to lobby for entry into Indian markets.

Parties such as the Samajwadi Party and Rashtriya Janata Dal, who helped the Government during the vote on FDI in retail, also joined the Opposition benches in demanding a time-bound probe into the issue.

The Rajya Sabha had witnessed uproarious scenes on the issue on Monday too. On Tuesday, when the House assembled, Opposition benches urged the Centre to make its stand clear on the “serious allegation”, which reflects on the image of Indian Parliament in a foreign country.

Stating that lobbying was practically bribery, senior BJP leader Venkaiah Naidu said in the Rajya Sabha that the Government should tell Parliament what happened in the country and why such a report was tabled by Walmart in the US Senate. CPI (M) leader Sitaram Yechury said his party had moved a notice to discuss the issue under Rule 176.

The Question Hour could not be held because of disruptions, with the Chairman, Hamid Ansari, conveying his displeasure.

Parliamentary Affairs Minister Kamal Nath said the Government was equally concerned about the reports coming from US. “We are not running away from that concern and have no hesitation in holding an inquiry,” he said.

The issue echoed in the Lok Sabha as well. Veteran BJP MP Yashwant Sinha said the Government should announce a time-bound judicial probe into the reports. There were also demands for a Joint Parliamentary Committee probe. The issue is likely to disrupt the proceedings on Wednesday too.

jigeesh.am@thehindu.co.in

(This article was published on December 11, 2012)
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