Ethics panel seeks Trinamool MPs’ response on bribery sting

New Delhi, April 15 (IANS) The Lok Sabha’s Ethics Committee that has been asked to probe into the high-profile Narada portal sting operation on Trinamool Congress leaders has sought individual responses from five Lok Sabha members.

The five parliamentarians are Saugata Roy, Sultan Ahmad, Suvendu Adhikari, Kakoli Ghosh Dastidar and Prasun Banerjee.

The video footage released by Narada news portal during the budget session of parliament had shown these five MPs and party’s Rajya Sabha member Mukul Roy, a known confidant of party supremo Mamata Banerjee, taking currency notes in return of favour and lobbying for a fictitious firm.

The panel notice to five Lok Sabha members has been issued by the Ethics Committee secretariat at the directives of its chairman L.K. Advani, sources said here.

Meanwhile, a Trinamool source told IANS that individually all these MPs will seek time to respond only after May 19 once the election process in the state gets over.

“There is no deadline to reply to the notice from Lok Sabha’s ethics panel,” the source said.

Former union minister of state for tourism Sultan Ahmed, campaigning outside Kolkata in north Bengal, said: “I have to check whether a notice has been received in my Kolkata office; only then I can reply.”

Earlier this month, portal Narada News’ chief executive officer Mathew Samuel at the directives of the Ethics Committee secretariat had submitted “unedited videos” to the Lok Sabha secretariat.

Lok Sabha Speaker Sumitra Mahajan on March 16 referred the matter related to the sting operation to the Ethics Committee for investigation.

The 15-member Ethics Committee, besides Advani, includes Arjun Meghwal, Kariya Munda (both BJP), B. Mahtab (Biju Janata Dal), Ninong Ering (Congress) and Akshay Yadav (Samajwadi Party).

The panel work will formally get underway after its first meeting and when the committee chairman and the members see the video footage and examine the responses from sitting Trinamool MPs, sources said.

Sources also said Mathew had last month complained to the Rajya Sabha chairman Hamid Ansari that his phones were being tapped.

Significantly, the allegations of phone tapping came after Trinamool Congress floor leader in Rajya Sabha Derek O’Brien raising the bogie of influence of black money against the portal.

O’Brien had claimed in the upper house of parliament that the day the first video footage was released, telephone calls were made to the news portal from Dubai.

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