Very sad day in parliament’s history: Somnath

July 22nd, 2008 - 8:36 pm ICT by IANS  

A file-photo of Bharatiya Janata Party

New Delhi, July 22 (IANS) Describing it as a “very sad day in the history of parliament”, Lok Sabha Speaker Somnath Chatterjee Tuesday promised a thorough probe into allegations by three Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) MPs that they had been bribed by the government’s supporters ahead of a crucial trust vote. “Sometime back, certain incidents have taken place. It is very unfortunate. It is a very sad day in the history of parliament,” a visibly upset Chatterjee said when the house assembled at 6 p.m. after two adjournments on the bribery issue.

“I heard the complaints of the three members and have requested them to put their complaints in writing. I have assured them of all possible steps as the custodian of this house (to get at the truth),” the speaker maintained.

“I can assure you that no one who is guilty will be spared,” he added.

Chatterjee, however, turned down the demand of Prabhunath Singh of the Janata Dal-United (JD-U) to give the three BJP MPs a chance to address the house on the issue.

Opposition MPs rose to their feet in protest and Chatterjee then adjourned the house till 6.30 p.m., when Prime Minister Manmohan Singh would reply to the debate on the trust motion he had moved Monday.

“The house will meet at 6.30 p.m. when the prime minister will reply (to the debate). The vote will be taken at 7.15 p.m.,” the speaker said.

Pandemonium prevailed in the house after the three BJP MPs - Ashok Argal, Faggan Singh Kulaste and Mahavir Bhagora - advanced to the Lok Sabha secretary-general’s table and pulled wads of Rs.1,000 notes out of three bags. As other BJP MPs also joined them and started shouting slogans, deputy speaker Charanjit Singh Atwal, who was presiding, walked out in disgust a little after 4 p.m.

According to BJP leader and Leader of Opposition L.K. Advani, the three MPs had been given Rs.10 million each as an “advance” to abstain from voting on the trust motion. They had been promised another Rs.80 million each after the vote, he added.

Advani’s remarks came soon after the Lok Sabha was adjourned.

The ruling Congress charged that the money belonged to the BJP itself.

“Yes, that’s what I am saying,” Congress spokesperson Jayanti Natarajan told NDTV news channel in reply to a pointed question as to whether she was saying that the money belonged to the BJP itself.

“Unless they give evidence, we can’t take them at their word,” Natarajan maintained, adding: “They are bringing parliament into disrepute.”

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