New Delhi/Kolkata, March 16 (IANS) The Trinamool Congress on Wednesday found itself in more trouble over the sting operation allegedly showing several of its leaders taking ‘bribes’ with the matter being referred to the Lok Sabha’s ethics panel while the Congress and the BJP moved the Calcutta High Court for a CBI probe.
The Trinamool again sought to dismiss the allegations and questioned the sting video’s source while also protesting the speaker’s decision.
Meanwhile, the demand for Banerjee’s resignation as chief minister came as the opposition Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in poll-bound West Bengal sought to corner the ruling party on the issue.
Lok Sabha Speaker Sumitra Mahajan referred the issue to the Ethics Committee headed by BJP veteran L.K. Advani.
“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 (Tuesday). 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 said.
The 15-member ethics panel has been asked to conduct its “examination, investigation and report” into the issue in which five Trinamool members from the Lok Sabha — Saugata Roy, Sultan Ahmad, Suvendu Adhikari, Kakoli Ghosh Dastidar and Prasun Banerjee — and one from the Rajya Sabha, Mukul Roy, allegedly accepting bribes.
Saugata Roy protested the move in the house.
“You have referred the matter to the ethics committee. We strongly protest this as you have taken a unilateral decision. Not even a formal motion was moved,” he told the speaker.
Mahajan, however, said that earlier also the ethics panel of the house took cognizance of such complaints on the conduct of the members, citing the disqualifications in 2005 in what came to the known as the “cash-for-question” scam.
Later, talking to reporters, Roy said to suggest that he has taken any illicit money as allegedly shown in the video “was an insult” for him.
“Please don’t insult people like this,” he said.
The issue figured prominently in the Rajya Sabha also on Wednesday with acrimonious scenes seen during the zero hour as Trinamool and CPI-M members exchanged heated words over the issue.
The CPI-M charged that the BJP central government was going soft on the issue due to a “match fixing” between it and the Trinamool, while its leader Sitaram Yechury also reminded Trinamool that in the wake of Tehelka tapes revelation, Banerjee had quit the erstwhile Vajpayee government.
“When Tehelka tapes came (during the Vajpayee government), their leader (Banerjee) and their party had walked out of the BJP government,” he said.
Questioning the authenticity of the video, Trinamool’s Derek O’Brien said: “Let us not judge the credibility of the video; let’s judge the source of the video.”
“Even the (TV news) channels are running the video with a disclaimer that they are not responsible for the content,” he said alleging foreign funds were coming to the portal company that conducted the sting.
In Kolkata, the Congress and the BJP’s state units on Wednesday separately also moved the Calcutta High Court with petitions seeking a Central Bureau of Investigation probe into the issue.
The BJP, which had meet Governor K.N. Tripathi on Tuesday to seek his intervention, on Wednesday stepped up its attack and demanded Banerjee quit.
“All their MPs shown taking money should resign. Their leader (Banerjee) should also resign as earlier on similar case, she had quit the NDA,” union minister Prakash Javadekar told reporters alluding Banerjee quitting as railway minister in wake of the Tehelka tapes revelation.
Union minister Babul Supriyo said: “People know it well while Didi (Banerjee) moves around in chappals, her party colleagues are no less than crorepatis (rich).”
He said the portal that did the sting operation against Trinamool leaders have done a “good service” to the state’s people and would help the electorate make up their mind for the elections.
“Most of us not surprised by the allegations of corruption against Trinamool leaders. Didi (Mamata) herself says, people always give their verdict during elections in the mandate in the ballot box. Let us see how they decide in upcoming elections,” Supriyo told IANS.