Investigative website Cobrapost on Thursday claimed to have exposed 11 Members of Parliament from different political parties who allegedly showed willingness to issue recommendation letters and lobby with the Union Ministry for Petroleum for a fictitious foreign oil company seeking exploration and digging rights in the northeast.
In the undercover operation, code-named ‘Operation Falcon Claw’, the MPs — allegedly from the Congress, the BJP, the BSP, the JD (U) and the AIADMK — were clandestinely filmed as they reportedly agreed to lobby for the company for a consideration ranging from Rs. 50,000 to Rs. 50 lakh. Six of these MPs even wrote the letters for a fee, Cobrapost alleged.
The website alleged that none of these 11 MPs even bothered to check the antecedents of the company to ascertain whether it was real or fake.
“What they hankered after was money, quoting as low as Rs. 50,000 to a mind-boggling Rs. 50 lakh as the price for a letter of recommendation, to be delivered all in cash. One MP even demanded that his fee be delivered through a hawala operator. Six MPs issued letters of recommendation to Cobrapost,” the website’s Editor Aniruddha Bahal said.
“Six MPs gave letters of recommendation in favour of fictitious Mediterranean Oil Inc. Some of them were ready to lobby for the company for as low as low Rs. 75,000 while others were not ready to settle for less than Rs. 5 lakh for a single letter. In one case, an MP quoted a ridiculously high price of Rs. 50 lakh for the letter,” Mr. Bahal alleged.
The Hindu made efforts to approach some of these MPs, but they did not pick up their phones.