Sparks flew between the Bharatiya Janata Party and the other parties at a meeting in New Delhi on Tuesday over deciding how Aam Aadmi Party lawmaker Bhagwant Mann should be punished for his video act that allegedly threatened Parliament’s security.
The panel is likely to recommend to Lok Sabha Speaker Sumitra Mahajan a token one-day suspension for Mann.
When the meeting started, the BJP members demanded that Mann should be suspended for a full session. The Parliamentary probe panel’s chairman Kirit Somaiya’s draft report also recommended the same.
In a surprise move, the Congress and its arch-rivals — the AIADMK and the Biju Janata Dal (BJD) — joined hands to oppose the move. Even Shiv Sena and Trinamool Congress supported Mann.
Sources said BJD’s Lok Sabha floor leader Bhartruhari Mahtab said Mann, who had been advised to not attend the House till the panel submits its report, has already faced “enough punishment”. He also pointed out that Mann had fervently appealed to the panel and offered unconditional apology. “Mann has also said that he doesn’t want his earlier accusations against the PM and a former MP to be a part of the official record. So, what more do you want?” he said.
Isolating the BJP members further, Shiv Sena member Anandrao Adsul said the panel “should not be very stringent”. “He (Mann) represents 14 lakh people of his constituency,” Adsul pointed out.
As the tussle intensified, Congress’ KC Venugopal proposed a voting—a rare occurrence in a parliamentary panel to decide on Mann’s quantum of punishment.
Venugopal and Trinamool Congress MP Ratna De Nag added that they are ready to give a note of dissent if the panel proposes a session-long suspension for Mann.
Somaiya, in a bid to evolve a consensus, sought the Opposition camp’s help to resolve the differences.