JPC probe sought into Wal-Mart report
†The UPA government’s troubles with FDI in multi-brand retail seem to be far from over with opposition parties, besides the RJD that provides outside support to the ruling coalition, demanding an investigation by the Joint Parliamentary Committee into the Wal-Mart report admitting that Rs 125 crore was spent on lobbying to enter the Indian market.
The Opposition has now raised the pitch against flow of foreign capital in the multi-brand retail sector, contending that the Centre’s decision to this effect was “tainted.”
The NDA, the Left, TMC, BJD, AIADMK and the RJD were in no mood to buy the government’s faint-hearted argument that it had no hesitation in having an inquiry. However, the SP and BSP, which orchestrated the government’s success in the voting on FDI in Parliament, have distanced themselves from the corruption charges.
BJP MP Yashwant Sinha raised the issue during the Question Hour in the Lok Sabha. He demanded that the government should announce a time-bound judicial inquiry into the Wal-Mart report. “The report said four Indian officials were being investigated in the US. But there has been no inquiry in the country. They have remained silent after taking the money,” Sinha charged.
With some MPs trooping to the Well, Parliamentary Affairs Minister Kamal Nath said: “The government views this with concern. We have no hesitation in having an inquiry.”
He said that the government will announce its course of action on Tuesday itself, but no statement was issued by the UPA.
Both Houses faced several adjournments, with the clamour for an investigation gaining momentum.
“Lobbying is not illegal in the US, but it is called commission here. It is illegal. It is bribery,” Basudeb Acharia of the CPM said.
He demanded that the report should mention the beneficiaries and be tabled in the House within a month. Kalyan Banerjee of the TMC charged that despite “leaders running the country were aware of lobbying, they allowed the retail giant’s entry.”
The Congress, however, criticised the Opposition for disrupting Parliament proceedings and claimed that the demands for a judicial investigation and setting up of a JPC were not reasonable.
“It is a fact that our law does not have its force in foreign countries. If JPC is constituted to probe the matter, how will it summon respondents who live abroad?” Congress spokesperson Rashid Alvi questioned. “The government will decide on what type of inquiry should be initiated and announce it in Parliament.”
Alvi also dismissed the Opposition’s demand of a time-bound inquiry into the matter.