M A I N   N E W S

Expel 10 exposed MPs, says Bansal panel
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, December 21
The Lok Sabha panel headed by Pawan Kumar Bansal of the Congress which probed the cash-for-questions scandal is believed to have recommended seeing the back of the 10 accused MPs allegedly involved in it.

The report submitted to Lok Sabha Speaker Somnath Chatterjee minutes before the deadline ended at 4 p.m. this afternoon is expected to be tabled in the House tomorrow, according to sources in Parliament.

Sources said the five-member panel has recommended outright expulsion of all the Lok Sabha MPs caught on camera in a sting operation taking money from a group of journalists pretending to be representatives of a business association. Clearly, the panel has found the evidence which was aired on Aaj Taj TV as incontrovertible.

The Lok Sabha MPs caught in the scam are Y.G. Mahajan, M.K. Anna Saheb Patil, Suresh Chandel, Pradeep Gandhi and Chandra Pratap Singh (all BJP), Narendra Kumar Kushwaha, Raja Ram Pal and Lal Chandra Kol (all BSP), Manoj Kumar (RJD) and Ramsewak Singh (Congress). The lone Rajya Sabha MP caught in the scam Chatra Pal Singh Lodha of the BJP has already been suspended from the House.

Soon after the scam broke and sent shock waves in Parliament, Mr Chatterjee had appealed to the MPs concerned not to attend the Lok Sabha till the house panel probed the matter and submitted its report.

Within hours after the scam was aired, political parties to whom these MPs owed their allegiance took expeditious action of suspending the members. Nevertheless, this issue figured prominently in the Lok Sabha again today with members seeking a probe into the motives behind the stunning media exposure.

The Bansal committee has also been asked to probe the second sting operation that exposed another five Lok Sabha MPs and two Rajya Sabha members when they allegedly asked for bribes to release money from the controversial MP Local Area funds for developmental activities.

The Speaker has appointed two more MPs to the Bansal committee for the second probe.

Earlier, Lok Sabha MPs raised strong concern against being made commercial products in sting operations. They demanded a probe into the motives behind the television expose.

Raising the issue during zero hour, Prabhunath Singh of the Janata Dal (United) accused the media of “trying to defame” the MPs and parliament.

“If you make the MPs a commercial commodity, it cannot be acceptable. The media is trying to defame the MPs and Parliament. The way the media intrude MPs residences and manipulate their statements are deplorable,” Mr Singh said amid loud support from the members cutting across party lines.

“No institution can be above the law,” Mr Singh insisted and demanded that those who had offered money should also be punished.

Supporting the JD(U) leader, Samajwadi Party’s Mohan Singh said the issue involved privilege of the House because any attempt to corrupt a member was a cognisable offence.

“We want action against those found guilty. But those who are giving bribes cannot go scot free. This is an organised attempt to defame Parliament.”

The Speaker assured that there would be no witch hunting against the MPs and promised to consult party leaders before taking a decision. “If any corrective measures are needed we should do that. At the same time we must try to see that the dignity of the House is never affected or prejudiced by anybody whether inside or outside,” Mr Chatterjee observed.

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