Trinamool Congress today found itself in a tight corner in the Lok Sabha over a sting operation, with the 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 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 said.
In Kolkata, BJP held a protest march demanding the dismissal of the TMC government, and later met Governor K N Tripathi on the issue.
"We met the Governor and placed our demands that the TMC government, whose ministers, MPs and other leaders were seen taking bribes, has no right to govern the state. We demand immediate dismissal of the government. Free and fair elections is not possible with the TMC at the helm of affairs in the state," BJP General Secretary Kailash Vijayvargiya told reporters.
"It is a shame. They have broken the trust of the people. When public representatives of a party are taking bribes in return of favours, it is very shameful and condemnable," he said.
During the protest march, senior BJP leaders including Rahul Sinha were detained by police. BJP had yesterday demanded resignation of West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee and the CPI(M) sought President's rule in the state.
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