Sting Operation: LS's Ethic Committee Seeks Explanation From TMC MPs

New Delhi
Sting Operation: LS's Ethic Committee Seeks Explanation From TMC MPs

The Ethics Committee of Lok Sabha has sought explanation from five Trinamool Congress MPs, who were allegedly caught in a sting operation accepting cash last month.

A source said that the panel, headed by BJP MP L K Advani, has asked the TMC members to explain their position in the matter.

The panel had earlier asked news portal Narada News, which had released video tapes of the sting, about the source of the clips and whether it stood by the sting operation.

The panel is understood to have sought the explanation from the MPs after getting the response of the news portal.

In the purported sting telecast last month, five TMC members from Lok Sabha -- Saugata Roy, Sultan Ahmad, Suvendu Adhikari, Kakoli Ghosh Dastidar and Prasoon Banerjee, and Mukul Roy from Rajya Sabha, were shown allegedly accepting money from people representing a fictitious firm.

When contacted, TMC MP Sultan Ahmad today said, "I have heard about the notice. I am on tour campaigning for the election and I have yet not received the notice. When I get it, I will see."

The matter could kick up a political row as it has again come into focus at a time when Assembly polls are underway in West Bengal and BJP and other parties have launched an all-out attack against ruling TMC there.

While the matter saw BJP, Congress and Left making a common cause in Parliament and outside to target TMC on the issue, Mamata Banerjee's party has been maintaining that the charges were part of a political conspiracy ahead of the West Bengal polls.

On March 16, Lok Sabha Speaker Sumitra Mahajan had said that the bribery charges against TMC members would be probed by Lok Sabha's Committee on Ethics, adding that the "very serious" allegations impacted the "very credibility of Parliament".

Mahajan had made the announcement, a day after BJP, Congress and CPI(M) came together in Parliament to attack the TMC members allegedly shown in a sting and demanded an inquiry.

"Certain acts of alleged unethical conduct on the part of some members of the House have been reported in the press and the matter was also raised by some members in the House yesterday," Mahajan had then said.

"These allegations are very serious in nature and seek to impact upon the very credibility of parliamentarians and Parliament as an institution and therefore need to be examined," she had observed as she asked the 15-member committee, headed by Advani, for "examination, investigation and report".

The Speaker's decision is reminiscent of a similar probe by a parliamentary committee in Lok Sabha and the Ethics Committee probe in Rajya Sabha in 2005 in the wake of the 'cash-for-query' scam, which had led to the termination of membership of 11 MPs -- 10 members from Lok Sabha and one from Rajya Sabha. Somnath Chatterjee was the then Speaker.

"Keeping in view the extreme gravity of the matter, I have in exercise of my powers under the provisions of Rule 233B of the Rules of Procedure and Conduct of Business in the Lok Sabha decided to refer the matter to the Committee on Ethics for examination, investigate and report," Mahajan had said in Lok Sabha.

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