Aam Aadmi Party MP Bhagwant Mann is staring at strict action for posting a Facebook video of Parliament’s interiors with Lok Sabha Speaker Sumitra Mahajan on Friday rejecting his apology and members of both Houses calling for his disqualification.
Mann’s act has seriously compromised Parliament’s security and given “a bird’s-eye view of the inner layout to anyone who wants to create terror”, former Delhi Police officer Ashok Chand, who was part of the team that investigated the December 13, 2001 terror attack on the House, told HT.
“I was coming to Parliament to raise an issue during zero hour. Anjaane mein maine video banayi. I wanted to show the selection process of zero hour notices. I apologise unconditionally. I will never do it again,” the Sangrur MP said in a letter to Mahajan.
But a furious Speaker told Mann “this is beyond apology” when he met her to apologise in person.
“We will take action”, Mahajan later told reporters, speaking of the 13 people who laid down their lives in the terrorist attack 14 years ago.
She consulted senior Lok Sabha members and indicated forming a panel to recommend action against the comedian-turned-politician. Mann will be suspended at least for the remainder of this session, sources said.
In the nearly 12-minute video, Mann films his way through multiple security barricades in his car and then inside Parliament.
“I’ll show you something today you would not have seen earlier,” he says in the video, which he has since pulled down from his Facebook page.
“Mann’s live-streaming gives a bird’s-eye view of the inner layout… The Jaish-e-Mohammed terrorists (who attacked Parliament in 2001) had a lot of video clips with them… but none from inside the House. That’s why they couldn’t plan the strike with precision,” said Chand, who was then DCP (special cell).
In Parliament, Mann faced the ire of members across party lines. Fellow AAP MP Harinder Singh Khalsa even accused him of coming to the House drunk and reeking of alcohol, requesting the Speaker to change his seat so he didn’t have to sit next to Mann.
In the lower House, the treasury benches and especially the Shiromani Akali Dal — one of AAP’s main opponents in Punjab ahead of elections next year — were the most vociferous. Union minister and SAD leader Harsimrat Kaur’s insistence on raising the issue when private member’s bills were to be taken up in Rajya Sabha was opposed by Opposition leaders, leading to adjournment of the House for the day.
The BJP’s Kirit Somaiya demanded Mann be disqualified while his party colleague RK Singh demanded a breach of privilege motion against the AAP member.
“It is not ignorance, it is not foolishness either, it is not obduracy. Therefore, my request is that a separate committee be formed (to probe the matter),” said the BJD’s Bhartruhari Mahtab.
Congress leader Malllikarjuna Khadge’s demand for action against Mann was seconded by the AIADMK and Shiv Sena.
The upper House witnessed similar scenes with MPs from the BJP, Congress, SAD, CPI(M) and other parties saying Mann must be held accountable for his actions.
Admitting the matter was grave, deputy chairman PJ Kurien said the government must take cognisance of the security breach and take appropriate legal action. He also said that if members wanted a discussion on the issue, an appropriate resolution had to be brought.
Mann’s party, however, said in his defence that the video was not a breach of security and accused the BJP of hyping a “non-issue” to deflect attention from the attack on Dalits in Gujarat.