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Lok Sabha may expel 10 members

Neena Vyas

NEW DELHI: Ten members of the Lok Sabha caught in the sting operation, which showed them taking cash allegedly for asking specific questions in Parliament, could face expulsion on Friday.

The Lok Sabha is expected to take up the Pawan Bansal Committee report, tabled on Thursday, recommending that "the House may consider" their "expulsion" as "continuation of these members will be untenable".

Parliamentary Affairs Minister Priyaranjan Dasmunsi kept the government's cards close to his chest, saying it would react and respond in the Lok Sabha. However, he added significantly, "the government was primarily with the House and its committee [the Bansal Committee]."

The Minister categorically said, "there were no differences" in the Congress and the government over the committee recommendations.

The Lok Sabha procedure would depend on notices for discussion received from MPs and the Speaker's decision on these. The government was also free to move a resolution, which could be discussed and voted on.

It would seem the government was in the process of making up its mind on moving a resolution seeking the expulsion of the 10 MPs. The other option being considered was the committee chairman, Mr. Bansal, moving a resolution. He could ask that the House adopt the committee's recommendations.

The government and a majority of the parties want to send out a strong political message that they are not shielding corruption and, more than this, there should be no doubt about the credibility of Parliament and the integrity of its members. Whatever the final scenario, it is almost certain the House will debate the issue on the basis of a resolution or a notice given by a member. Senior leaders said the House could decide to sit till late in the evening to dispose of this urgent matter. Friday is the last day of the winter session.

Informed sources said that when the matter was taken up the affected MPs would be asked to attend the proceedings and given a chance to defend themselves.

Poser to BJP

Senior Congress leaders in the government were critical of the Bharatiya Janata Party's stance that the entire matter be referred to the Privileges Committee to give a "fair chance" to the MPs in the firing line to defend themselves.

They asked: How did the BJP agree to serve on the Bansal panel, which was given the specific job of inquiring into the cash-for-questions sting operation, if the party thought that the right thing to do was to refer the matter to the Privileges Committee?

Why was it finding fault with the procedure adopted by the Bansal Committee when the BJP member on it, V.K. Malhotra, did not oppose that procedure?

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