The BJP on Tuesday picked up from a US newspaper report that Wal-Mart paid bribes to officials in India during UPA days to target the Congress, saying the party was synonymous with corruption and had damaged India’s reputation abroad.
BJP spokesperson GVL Narsimmha Rao said the revelations made it evident that the previous Congress government’s “cash and carry” operations acquired international notoriety.
“A spate of scandals like the Bofors and Volcker (Oil for Food) scams, Augusta and Wal-Mart, besides many others, have seriously impaired India’s image in different parts of the world. The Congress government at the centre between 2004 and 2014 was undeniably the most corrupt government ever in India’s history,” Rao told reporters.
Hitting back at the BJP, the Congress said the payments were made when the NDA government was in power. “Historically if you see, they (Wal-Mart) came during the NDA period. They paid as low as $5 to $200 to excise officers for custom clearances and real estate agents to run their businesses. To top it all, their operative bases were in the NDA-ruled states,” Congress spokesman Tom Vadakkan said.
The Wall Street Journal reported that a three-year investigation by US authorities revealed that Wal-Mart Stores Inc paid bribes in India. The newspaper said bribing in India comprised thousands of small payments to low level officials to help move goods through customs or obtain real estate permits.
Rao, however, said Wal-Mart disclosed in December 2012 it spent Rs 125 crore for lobbying activities since 2008 for “enhanced market access for investment in India” and the then Congress government never probed the allegations and remained mum.
“Wal-Mart paid huge lobbying amounts during 2008 to December 2012 when Sonia Gandhi remained concerned of the impact on small retailers. Was the Congress party’s change in position on multi-brand retail from 2008 to 2012 a result of successful lobbying efforts by Wal-Mart? The Congress party’s shift of position from 2008 to 2012 on multi-brand retail smacks of a mega scam,” Rao said.