Nine-member panel to probe video row involving AAP MP
New Delhi, July 25 (IANS) Lok Sabha Speaker Sumitra Mahajan on Monday set up a nine-member panel dominated by the BJP to probe the alleged breach of Parliament security by AAP’s Bhagwant Mann and “advised” him not to attend the House till the issue is resolved.
Upset by the decision, Mann and the Aam Aadmi Party termed it a “political conspiracy” to malign the AAP’s image. Mann said Prime Minister Narendra Modi should also be asked to appear before the committee as he allowed Pakistan’s intelligence agency ISI to probe the terror attack on the IAF base at Pathankot.
Addressing the Lok Sabha as soon as it met after a weekend break, Mahajan said taking audio video footage of security zones in Parliament by Punjab’s Sangrur MP Mann on July 21 and putting it up on social networking sites put the “security of the Parliament in peril”.
“I have decided to constitute a nine-member Inquiry Committee to probe this incident and submit its report. The Inquiry Committee shall inquire into the serious security implications and related aspects arising out of the conduct of the audio visual recording,” Mahajan said.
Mann has been asked to appear before the panel by 10.30 a.m. on July 26 and make his submission.
The Speaker said the panel should submit its report by August 3 and till then Mann was “advised” not to attend the session.
“The Committee is requested to examine the matter expeditiously and is authorized to follow its own procedure. The report of the Committee will be presented to the House for consideration,” Mahajan said.
“In view of the seriousness of the matter, Mann is advised not to attend the sittings of the House until a decision is taken in the matter.”
Describing Parliament as the “sanctum sanctorum” of democracy, Mahajan recalled that on December 13, 2001 security personnel had sacrificed their lives for protecting Parliament and after that the entire security system was reviewed and overhauled.
Therefore, the “act of the member” of making an audio visual recording of the security checks inside Parliament and posting it on social media has “put the security of the Parliament in peril”, she said.
Mahajan said she had consulted leaders of all political parties and everyone supported her on this issue.
The nine-member panel is headed by Bharatiya Janata Party MP Kirit Somaiya and includes Anandrao Adsul (Shiv Sena), Meenakshi Lekhi, Satya Pal Singh (both BJP), B. Mahtab (BJD), Ratna De Nag (Trinamool Congress), Thota Narasimhan (TDP), K.C. Venugopal (Congress) and P. Venugopal (AIADMK).
The panel has also been asked to “suggest remedial measures” so that such episodes are not repeated.
Mann, who was not in the house when Speaker announced her decision, looked upset when reporters sought his comment.
“When the Prime Minister allowed Pakistan’s security agency inside the Pathankot base, was not the country’s security put at stake?” he asked and demanded that Modi should also be asked to appear before the committee.
“He should also be suspended from Parliament,” he added.
Terming the Speaker’s decision “one sided”, Mann said: “It was a political conspiracy to malign AAP as these parties are scared because we are going to get a majority in the Punjab assembly polls.”
He reiterated that his intention vis-a-vis the live video was not to jeopardise Parliament’s security.
“I wanted to make an educational video. I wanted to make the people aware how their grievances are selected through lucky draw,” he said.
AAP leader Sanjay Singh defended Mann and blamed the central government for the action taken against the MP.
“The suspension of Mann from Parliament is like strangling the common man in a democracy,” he said.