With the winter session of Parliament coming to an end, Aam Aadmi Party lawmaker Bhagwant Mann – who was virtually kept away for two consecutive sessions after he uploaded a security detail video online – has lashed out at the committee that recommended his suspension for the rest of the session.
Speaking exclusively to Hindustan Times over the phone from Amritsar, Mann said the committee headed by Bharatiya Janata Party MP Kirit Somaiya “succeeded in furthering the BJP’s conspiracy to keep AAP’s voice out of Parliament for two sessions ahead of the Punjab assembly polls.” Punjab will go to elections in February next year.
Describing the committee as BJP-dominated, Mann alleged it was biased from the beginning. “The man who was most vocal against me on July 22 in the Lok Sabha on the video recording was made the chairman of the committee. He spoke against me on the record in the Lok Sabha proceedings when the incident was discussed, yet madam Speaker appointed him. He was not neutral,” Mann said. Three of the eight members on the committee were from the BJP.
Rejecting Mann’s charges, Somaiya said the committee’s decision was unanimous. “It is a closed chapter now. The House adopted the resolution,” he said.
The committee was formed after the July 18 filming became controversial amid allegations that making it public amounted to compromising Parliament’s security. Mann had traced his journey from his MP’s residence in South Avenue to inside the Parliament complex, recording it on his phone video camera and uploaded it on Facebook. After the incident blew up, he had tendered an apology to the Speaker but a committee was formed to look in to it.
In his response to the committee, he said Prime Minister Narendra Modi was guilty of inviting Pakistan’s ISI officials to the Pathankot air base but no action had been taken against him. The committee found the apology and the aggressive stance against Modi inconsistent.
“The matter should have ended with the apology but when I had to defend myself, I had to remind the committee that bringing Pakistan officials to Pathankot was a bigger security breach. There is no inconsistency,” he said.
A committee member from the BJP tried to prove that Mann had links with those backing the Khalistan movement and had met them on a trip to Germany. “I am supposed to check everyone’s identity and past record before they get a picture clicked with them?” he reasoned. Mann is a successful Punjabi comedian who turned politician and fought the Lok Sabha election for the first time in 2014.