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BJP disrupts Parliament over Wal-Mart lobbying issue

 New Delhi, Dec 11 (IANS): Proceedings in both Houses of Parliament were stalled on Tuesday as the BJP took up the issue of international supermarket chain Wal-Mart lobbying in the US to open the way for foreign equity in retail trade in India.

The Bharatiya Janata Party wanted Question Hour to be suspended to discuss Wal-Mart reportedly spending Rs 125 crore on lobbying activities in the US, including on issues related to enhanced market access for investment in India.

As soon as both Houses met, BJP members started shouting slogans, demanding suspension of Question Hour and asking the government to clarify how much money the company spent on lobbying in India.

Lok Sabha Speaker Meira Kumar asked members to allow the House to run and said she would give them a chance to raise the issue during the day. But this did not pacify the BJP and they continued the ruckus, forcing the Speaker to suspend the House till 12 noon.

Similar scenes were reported from Rajya Sabha, leading to suspension of the Upper House for 30 minutes. Rajya Sabha chairman Hamid Ansari proposed to reschedule Question Hour or "dispense with it entirely" because of frequent disruptions.

The BJP parliamentary board had met in the morning and decided to take up the matter aggressively. "It was decided that Yashwant Sinha and M Venkaiah Naidu will raise the issue in the Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha, respectively," BJP leader Ravi Shankar Prasad told reporters.

"We want an independent body to conduct investigation on Wal-Mart's lobbying expenditure, money spent on India discussions," said Prasad.

He said the central government could not keep quiet on the disclosures made, and added that the BJP would continue raising the issue in Parliament.

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