Cong, BJP, Left corner TMC over sting operation; demand probe
New Delhi: Trinamool Congress on Tuesday found itself
in a tight corner in the Lok Sabha over a sting operation, with Government
insisting that “truth has to prevail” and favouring a probe into the alleged
bribery charges against some of its MPs.
The House saw BJP, Congress and Left making a common
cause to target the Trinamool Congress (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 Trinamool
Congress and Left members after Mohd Salim of the CPI(M) raised the issue
during Zero Hour and was followed by BJP’s SS Ahluwalia and Adhir Ranjan
Chowdhury (Congress) slammed the TMC and sought a probe.
They referred to the telecast of a sting purportedly
showing several TMC leaders accepting money to help a fictitious private firm
and demanded action against them, recalling that Parliament had expelled 11
members facing similar charges few years ago.
Responding to the members, 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.
Naidu’s response came after members of different
political parties demanded a probe.
“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.
TMC members sat silently for most of the time as Salim
was followed by Ahluwalia and Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury in attacking them, but
angry exchange of words took place when TMC leader Saugata Roy, one of the MPs
allegedly shown in the sting, put up his party’s defence.
TMC members and some from Congress and the Left were
heard trading charges against each other, which were expunged by the Speaker.
“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,” Chowdhury said.
Saugata Roy wondered under what rule Speaker Sumitra
Mahajan allowed members to raise the issue and said in anguish that “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,” he