The UPA government on Tuesday offered a probe into charges of Walmart lobbying, but it did not satisfy a belligerent Opposition, which said the government had not specified the contours of the probe.
A large number of Opposition parties, including ones which had bailed out the government on the FDI-in-retail vote, demanded a JPC to probe the lobbying charges. The BJP and a couple of other parties demanded a time-bound judicial probe.
Terming as shameful the company’s disclosure before the US Senate that it had spent `125 crore for lobbying in India, Members of Parliament said only an independent probe can find out who actually took the money from the retail giant. The matter was raised by senior BJP leader Yashwant Sinha in the Lower House when he said Walmart had spent money in India to gain entry.
“Who all have benefited as a result?... An investigation is on in America, and the probe also covers four Indian officials for allegedly benefiting from the Walmart largesse. But how come no probe has been initiated here in India?... Let there be a time-bound judicial inquiry to identify those who have benefited from Walmart money,” said Sinha.
Taking a dig at the government, he said this part of Delhi was named after Lutyen. “Now it is loot liyen (robbed) Delhi,” he said.
Union Parliamentary Affairs Minister Kamal Nath offered a probe into the matter. “This is not a matter of concern for the Opposition alone. This is a matter of concern for Government and for all of us. So, we have no hesitation in having an inquiry on this matter.... We would announce further steps on this in the House,” he said.
The Opposition, however, termed his reply vague and wanted an “immediate assurance” from the government on whether it was ready to concede the demand for a JPC or judicial probe into the matter.