Lok Sabha panel summons MP, others named in tapes

August 11th, 2008 - 7:22 pm ICT by IANS  

A file-photo of Bharatiya Janata Party

New Delhi, Aug 11 (IANS) The Lok Sabha panel, constituted to look into three Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) MPs’ allegations that they were bribed to abstain during the July 22 trust vote, Monday decided to summon Samajwadi Party MP Reoti Raman Singh and others named in the tapes of a sting operation on the cash-for-votes controversy. The seven-member panel headed by Congress MP V. Kishore Chandra Deo, which met Monday, decided to collect evidence from, among others, Reoti Raman Singh, MP from Allahabad, Sudheendra Kulkarni, former aide of Leader of Opposition L.K. Advani, and Sanjiv Saxena, said to be Samajwadi Party general secretary Amar Singh’s aide on Aug 18. Reoti Raman Singh has been summoned at the panel’s next meeting.

While Kulkarni has said he was present at the residence of one of the BJP MPs when cash was allegedly handed over, Saxena has been accused of delivering the cash to the MPs.

The BJP MPs had alleged that the Allahabd MP had persuaded them to meet Amar Singh, who along with Congress president Sonia Gandhi’s political secretary Ahmed Patel had allegedly offered them money for abstaining from the voting.

Amar Singh and Patel, both Rajya Sabha members, have denied the charges.

The three BJP MPs, Ashok Argal, Faggan Singh Kulaste and Mahavir Bhagora, stunned the nation by brandishing wads of cash in the Lok Sabha shortly before the Manmohan Singh government was to face the trust vote July 22 evening.

Argal and Kulaste have already been questioned by the panel, appointed by Speaker Somnath Chatterjee.

The committee, which was earlier asked to submit its report Monday, has been given an extension till Aug 29.

The committee Monday also collected the evidence from Rajdeep Sardesai, editor-in-chief of the CNN-IBN television channel that had conducted the sting operation, and five of his colleagues. According to Deo, the channel submitted more tapes to the committee.

Deo said the committee will also view the new tapes. It is also expected to watch two other CDs, which have come out on the incident. The second CD, which reportedly turned out to be a bogus one, was presented by former Madhya Pradesh chief minister Uma Bharti, who claimed the BJP had stage-managed the entire episode.

Three allies of the ruling United Progressive Alliance (UPA) - Rashtriya Janata Dal, Lok Janashakti Party and Samajwadi Party - also released a fresh CD a few days back purportedly showing that the BJP had stage-managed the episode.

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