BJP, Congress, Left unite to corner Trinamul Congress over 'bribe sting'

Government or Speaker can hold inquiry into matter, says Venkaiah Naidu.

New Delhi: A sting operation by a private news portal reportedly showing several Trinamul Congress leaders accepting money to help a fictitious private firm, led to uproarious scenes in both Houses of Parliament on Tuesday as the BJP, Congress and Left parties unitedly attacked the TMC on the matter. The TMC, on its part, claimed the entire episode was a political conspiracy to malign it as the West Bengal elections were just round the corner. The government even indicated it could either order an inquiry or Lok Sabha Speaker Sumitra Mahajan could look into the matter.

Read: Election Commission to examine TMC ‘bribe sting’ video

In the Rajya Sabha, the Left parties and BJP repeatedly tried to raise the issue of the sting operation, but were disallowed by deputy chairman P.J. Kurien. Heated exchanges were seen between TMC and Left members as Mohammed Salim of CPI(M) raised the issue during Zero Hour and was followed by the BJP’s S.S. Ahluwalia and the Congress’ Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury attacking the TMC while seeking a probe.

They referred to the telecast of a sting reportedly showing TMC leaders accepting money to help a fictitious private firm and sought action against them, recalling Parliament had expelled 11 members facing similar charges a few years ago. Responding to the members, parliamentary affairs minister M. Venkaiah Naidu said “the prestige of Parliament is at stake. We have to establish the truth. Simply saying it is a conspiracy is not enough and will not satisfy the public”.

Either the government itself could conduct an inquiry or the Speaker could order an inquiry, he said. Mr Naidu’s response came after members of different political parties demanded a probe.

“We are ashamed that we are sitting with such people. They should drown in shame. The dignity of Parliament has been compromised by their conduct,” Mohammed Salim said, demanding a committee be formed to probe the charges.

TMC members sat silently for most of the time as Mr Salim was followed by Mr Ahluwalia and Mr Chowdhury in attacking them, but angry exchanges took place when TMC leader Saugata Roy, one of the MPs allegedly seen in the sting, put up his party’s defence. TMC members and some Congress and Left MPs were heard trading charges against each other, that were later expunged by the Speaker.

“It is an embarrassment for our Parliament and democratic system. Five MPs have been shown accepting wads of money. The matter must be referred to the ethics committee,” Mr Ahluwalia said, recalling that several members were expelled by the House after they were caught “being influenced” in similar sting operations in 2005-06.

“This is related to the dignity of the House. They (TMC MPs) have been caught. It must be probed,” Mr Chowdhury said.

Saugata Roy wondered under what rule Speaker Sumitra Mahajan allowed members to raise the issue and said in anguish that “I had to live to see this day... It (sting) is a part of political conspiracy before the West Bengal polls where the CPI(M), Congress and BJP are destined to lose,” he said.

In an apparent criticism of Mr Roy’s objections to the issue being raised in the House, Mr Naidu said members should not give an impression to people “we are hiding under some rule or pretext”. He said parliamentarians often faced criticism from the people as he pitched for a probe to “dispel the wrong impressions”.

( Source : Deccan Chronicle. )
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