Thursday, February 22, 2024

LS panel to probe bribery allegations

Lok Sabha Speaker Somnath Chatterjee Saturday set up a seven-member committee to probe allegations by three Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) MPs that they were bribed by the Samajwadi Party and Congress to abstain during the trust vote in parliament on Tuesday.
The committee to be headed by senior Congress member V Kishore Chandra Deo was set up by Speaker Somnath Chatterjee who was petitioned yesterday by the three BJP MPs — Ashok Argal, Fagan Singh Kulaste and Mahesh Bhagora — seeking an inquiry into their charge.
In their petition seeking an inquiry into the charge that attempt was made to bribe them to get their support in the trust vote on July 22, the three MPs were believed to have named S P General Secretary and Ahmed Patil, Political Secretary to Congress President.
Both Amar Singh and Patel have denied the charges and said they will quit public life if there is any evidence of them offering or giving money to any MP.
Other members of the committee are : V K Malhotra (BJP), Mohd Saleem (CPI-M), Ram Gopal Yadav (SP), Devendra Prasad Yadav (RJD), Rajesh Verma (BSP) and C Kuppusamy (DMK).
The seven members have been chosen from the 11-member committee set up by Chatterjee earlier to look into allegations of misconduct by MPs on the floor of parliament.
The committee has been asked to give its report on August 11, when the House will commence its Monsoon session, Lok Sabha Secretary General P D T Achary said.
On July 22, the three BJP MPs shocked the Lok Sabha when they opened a leather bag and flashed bundles of currency notes claiming that they were given Rs one crore as advance in return for their support.
The complaint recounts the sequence of events that culminated in the dramatic scenes that rocked the Lok Sabha during the discussion on the trust vote on Tuesday when the three waved wads of currency notes, which they alleged had been offered to them to abstain during the vote.
They alleged on the floor of the House that they had been offered Rs.90 million each to abstain during the trust vote and been paid an advance of Rs. 10 million each.
A Lok Sabha Secretariat said the inquiry committee has been authorised to follow its own procedure while going into the alleged offer of money to the three BJP MPs in connection with the voting on the confidence motion.
Deo told PTI that he would convene the first meeting as soon as possible to decide on the modus operandi of the probe.
Malhotra, who is the Deputy Leader of the BJP in the Lok Sabha, said that the party and NDA would decide on the issue of participation in the committee.
Mounting pressure on the government on the issue, BJP leader L K Advani had even hinted at en masse resignation of the entire opposition in Parliament like that had happened on the Bofors issue in 1989 to register its protest over the “tainted” victory in the trust vote.
Advani had described the alleged “cash-for-votes scandal” as “even more shocking” than Bofors and had warned the government that it would not be easy for to continue smoothly in the wake of the controversy.

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