M A I N   N E W S

LS may debate on report today
Anita Katyal
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, December 22
Although the BJP is pushing hard to delay any immediate decision on the Pawan Kumar Bansal report, indications are that the Lok Sabha may debate the issue tomorrow.

The Bansal panel has recommended the expulsion of the 10 MPs who were exposed by a sting operation while accepting money for raising questions in Parliament.

In case a debate does take place, the 10 MPs, whose expulsion has been recommended, will also be allowed to participate in it to enable them to state their side of the story, Lok Sabha Speaker Somnath Chatterjee is learnt to have told party leaders this morning.

UPA sources indicated that a motion for endorsing the Bansal report could be moved by Leader of the Lok Sabha Pranab Mukherjee.

After being tabled in the Lok Sabha today, the report becomes the property of the House and it is for its members to decide how to proceed further on its recommendations. According to norms, any member or a representative of the government can seek a discussion on the report through a formal motion, which can be put to vote if there is no unanimity on it. The decision on admitting a motion and allowing a debate rests with the Speaker while a decision on accepting or rejecting the Bansal report rests with the members.

Going by the dissenting note submitted by BJP leader V.K. Malhotra, a member of the Bansal panel, the Opposition may try to buy time by arguing against any hurried decision and reiterate that the case of the 10 MPs be referred to the privileges committee to enable them to plead their case at greater length.

In fact, Mr Malhotra said as much at a meeting of party leaders called by Mr Chatterjee this morning. He was, however, ticked off by SP leader Ram Gopal Yadav, also a member of the Bansal committee. Mr Malhotra was reminded that if he had any objections to the procedures adopted by the committee, he should have said so on the first day itself. This view was echoed by several members who pointed out that the Bansal panel was set up by the Speaker with the consent of all parties for a specific task and having completed its task, it has submitted its report to him.

While legal hairsplitting about the validity of Mr Malhotra’s objections continued throughout the day- with one section arguing that the Bansal panel did not have the powers to recommend expulsion and the other saying it did — it became clear that the BJP is trying to delay matters as it stands to loose six MPs if the Bansal report is accepted. Since it cannot openly condone the action of its MPs given the public perception about politicians, the BJP is resorting to legal arguments to save their membership. However, it might find itself isolated, as in the case of the education quota Bill, as its own allies, including the Janata Dal (U), want the errant MPs to be expelled so that Parliament is not seen to be protecting the corrupt.


Follow code of ethics, Sonia tells MPs
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, December 22
With the BJP making an all-out attempt to save its six members caught on camera while accepting bribe for raising questions in Parliament, the Congress moved in to seize the moral high ground in this case.

Referring to the recent incidents involving MPs, Congress president Sonia Gandhi today expressed her anguish at the episode which, she said had damaged the public image and standing of MPs and of Parliament itself.

Addressing the general body meeting of the Congress Parliamentary Party, she called for self-introspection and for a firm commitment to the enforcement of the code of ethics laid down for all MPs by the two Houses of Parliament.

She urged party members to adhere to the norms to prevent conflict of interest and to the disclosure requirements that are clearly stipulated.

Ms Gandhi also asked the MPs to familiarise themselves with the existing codes of conduct and conflict of interest rules and that they should take it upon themselves to follow these in letter and spirit.

Ms Gandhi and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, who also addressed the meeting, called upon party MPs to work to dispel the wrong impressions that about the misuse of MPLAD scheme and to ensure that the scheme was properly implemented.

While both did not specifically mention the sting operations involving MPs, Congress spokesperson Anand Sharma reaffirmed that the party favoured strict action against those involved in the bribe scandal.

He said the party was in agreement with recommendations of the Pawan Kumar Bansal report for expulsion of the 10 MPs caught on camera.

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