The demand for a Joint Parliamentary Committee probe into disclosures by retail giant Walmart on lobbying in India was made by several members in the Lok Sabha today.
Samajwadi Party, which had bailed out the government during the vote on a motion against FDI in multi-brand retail, pressed for a judicial probe into the issue.
RJD, which supported the government on FDI issue, demanded a JPC probe into Walmart’s disclosure.
Terming as shameful the company’s disclosure before the US Senate that it had spent Rs. 125 crore for lobbying in India, members said only an independent probe can find out who actually took the money from the retail giant.
While several members demanded setting up a JPC, some others favoured a judicial probe which is time-bound.
Yashwant Sinha (BJP), who demanded a time-bound judicial probe, said the government should announce today itself whether it wanted to set up a JPC or order a judicial probe.
Demanding an early response from the government, members from BJP, Trinamool Congress, Left parties, AIADMK and JD(U) trooped into the Well forcing adjournment of the House for 30 minutes and later for the day.
Samajwadi Party members did not join the protest in the Well but were on their feet demanding a probe. BSP members were not seen in the House.
“Lobbying is not illegal in the US, but it is called ’commission’ here. It is illegal. It is bribery,” Basudeb Acharia (CPI-M) said.
Mr Acharia said the government will have to inform the House as to who benefited from the money. “Who was the medium of the money...it (the disclosure) is shameful...the one who took the money is the enemy of the country,” he said.
Seeking a judicial probe, he said the report should be tabled within one month and the probe should not linger like the JPC probe into the 2G scam.
Dubbing the disclosure as “shameful”, Kalyan Banerjee (TC) favoured a JPC probe, saying till the time the probe report is made public, Walmart should not be allowed to start operation in India.
He alleged though the “leaders running the country” were aware of lobbying, they allowed Walmart’s entry into the country through the decision on FDI.
Demanding setting up a JPC, M Thambi Durai (AIADMK) said it was necessary to find out who took the money. He claimed in 2002 Congress had opposed FDI in retail but later changed its mind and said he has doubts that a “pressure group” was working.
Gurudas Dasgupta (CPI) said the disclosure before the US Senate has made it clear that lobbying and bribery are now part and parcel of the political system.
Contending that bribe is paid to people who can deliver, Mr Dasgupta said the government is under “great shadow of suspicion” and demanded a JPC probe as CBI could not be relied upon.
Shailendra Kumar (SP) demanded a judicial probe claiming that the matter was serious and there was a need to find the reality.
Lalu Prasad (RJD) said the issue raised by Mr Sinha was serious and there was need for time-bound JPC probe into it.
He said if needed, representatives of Walmart should also be summoned.
Yaswant Sinha said the government was seeking proof from BJP whereas the retail giant has already given proof to the US Senate. “Now you should announce the probe...government should announce now whether it will be a judicial probe or JPC. Otherwise how will the House function?”
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.
Tathagat Sathpaty (BJD) said the probe report should be tabled in the House before the end of the Winter session. He said CBI should not be asked to probe following allegations of political influence on the agency.
Dinesh Chandra Yadav (JD-U) also supported a JPC probe saying it should table its report within one month.