Aam Aadmi Party MP Bhagwant Mann has refused to change his statement submitted to the Lok Sabha panel investigating a Parliament complex video put out by him for alleged security breach.
“I will not change my statement. I will change the date on it and return it if they ask for another statement,” Mann told HT over the phone from Chandigarh on Thursday night, accusing the panel of bias.
The Lok Sabha member from Sangrur has been advised by Speaker Sumitra Mahajan to stay away from the House till the completion of the probe.
He had in July live-streamed one of his visits to Parliament and also posted the video on Facebook on July 21, saying he was exposing chinks in the security setup.
His action drew condemnation from fellow MPs, who accused him of compromising Parliament’s security and a probe was ordered.
In his statement to the panel, the comedian-turned politician sought to turn the tables on the ruling NDA, demanding that it summon Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
Mann accused Modi of compromising the country’s security by allowing members of Pakistan’s Inter Services Intelligence to visit the Pathankot airbase, which was attacked by terrorists on January 2.
The MP will have to stay away from Parliament for another two weeks after the Speaker on August 3 extended the deadline given to the nine-member panel to complete the probe.
Hitting back at the panel chief, BJP lawmaker Kirit Somaiya, Maan said he was “already biased even before the probe began”. Somaiya and his party colleague Meenakshi Lekhi had spoken against him in the media. “Yet, they were made a part of the committee,” Mann told HT.
The 42-year-old, who will lead his party’s poll campaign in Punjab, posted another video on his Facebook page on Thursday, reading out Mahajan’s letter “ordering” him to stay away from Parliament till the probe was over.
“I will stay away but this amounts to dishonouring people’s will,” Mann said. It was an attempt by the BJP to prevent him from questioning the government, he said.
The Speaker has advised Mann not to attend the House till the probe is over. “The extension gives Mann another chance to remove the contradictions in his statement,” Somaiya said on August 3
In his statement, Mann said he had committed no wrong and the matter should end there, sources said. He had also tendered unconditional apology. “If he continues taking Parliament lightly, the committee will take a serious view,” Somaiya had said.
The AAP is testing electoral waters in Punjab, which is due for polls early next year, for the first time. The young party has presented itself has a third alternative to the ruling Shiromani Akali Dal-BJP combine and the opposition Congress in the border state.