'Was majority in parliament on FDI in retail funded by WalMart?'

Sitaram Yechury

Accusing Congress of "manufacturing majority" in Parliament on FDI in retail issue, CPI(M) today asked whether this was funded by American retail giant Walmart.

"An independent and time-bound inquiry is necessary. It is necessary to find out whether the amount (reportedly spent by Walmart in lobbying) was spent on bribes too," senior CPI(M) leader Sitaram Yechury said here.

Observing that the US media reports had said that the company had spent USD 25 million on lobbying with US lawmakers in 2012, he said "it has to be found whether Walmart financed this majority (in Parliament) too," he said, referring to the vote in Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha on the issue of FDI in retail.

In this context, he also referred to the Enron power project case in Maharashtra saying the now-bankrupt US energy firm had "spent money to 'educate' Indian officials about the company."

Yechury said Walmart considered India a "very big market" as its own estimations valued the retail market here to be worth USD 500 billion which is set to grow to USD one trillion by 2020.

Walmart, he said, was looking at India at a time when US and Europe had been hit by the global recession and Britain was threatening to walk out of the European Union.

"This is the simple truth" about Walmart's interests in India and the company was "not interested in investing to improve infrastructure but solely to reap profits," he said.

The US retail chain has been "doing such activity not only in India but in a large number of other countries also, most of them developing ones. Their activities in Mexico for eight years have now come to light," the Marxist leader said, adding "our stand has been vindicated".

To questions on government agreeing to a probe, he said "we are open to a judicial inquiry, either by a sitting or a retired judge, or one under the Inquiry Act. CBI can be used (by the probe panel) to investigate."

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