On Tuesday, Trinamool Congress found itself cornered in the Lok Sabha over a sting operation where some of its MPs are allegedly seen taking bribes. The government insisted that “truth has to prevail” and favoured a probe into matter.
The Lower House saw BJP, Congress and the Left together targeting the TMC on the issue, even as Mamata Banerjee’s party claimed that the charges were a political conspiracy ahead of the West Bengal polls.
Heated exchanges were witnessed between TMC MPs and Left members after Mohd Salim of the CPI(M) raised the issue during Zero Hour. BJP’s SS Ahluwalia and Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury of the Congress too joined in to demand a probe.
The protesting MPs demanded action against TMC MPs who were allegedly seen in the sting that was telecast. The video purportedly showed TMC leaders accepting money to help a fictitious private firm.
Responding to the uproar, 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 can carry out an inquiry or the Speaker can order an inquiry, he said.
“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,” Mohd Salim (CPI-M) said, demanding that a committee be formed to probe the charges.
“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,” Ahluwalia said as he recalled 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,” said Congress’ Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury.
An angry exchange of words took place in the House when TMC leader Saugata Roy, one of the MPs allegedly shown in the sting, put up his party’s defence.
“I had to live to see this day. … It (sting) is part of political conspiracy before the West Bengal elections where CPI-M, Congress and BJP are destined to lose,” said Roy defending himself.
Naidu urged the Chair to take a call on this, reiterating that the government can order a probe or the Speaker can look into the matter.
In the Rajya Sabha, Left parties and BJP repeatedly tried to raise the issue of the sting operation, but were disallowed by Deputy Chairman PJ Kurien.
Tapan Kumar Sen (CPI-M) wanted a House Committee to inquire into the issue but Kurien asked him to give notice before raising allegations.
“You are a senior member of House. Have you given a notice? Without notice I am not allowing any allegation against anyone,” Kurien said.
As BJP members too joined to raise the issue, he said, “I have made it very clear. Without a proper notice, I am not going to allow any allegation.”
(With inputs from PTI)