Why Bhagwant Mann’s video post poses a unique problem for Parliament?

  • Saubhadra Chatterji, Hindustan Times, New Delhi
  • Updated: Jul 23, 2016 12:09 IST
AAP’s Bhagwant Mann addresses the media at a press conference in Chandigarh. (HT File Photo)

When Sangrur MP and AAP leader Bhagwant Mann left home this week to record his journey to Parliament and subsequently uploaded the video on social media site Facebook, little did he know how this casual act can pose a serious security issue for the House.

Mann’s video, complete with running commentary, showed the exclusive radio frequency tag and other security measures introduced after the Parliament attack in 2001, an action that is a considerable breach of security.

He is now staring at strict action with Lok Sabha Speaker Sumitra Mahajan on Friday rejecting his apology and members of both Houses calling for his disqualification. 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.

Mann’s act, outside the House but inside the Parliament complex, has posed a unique challenge before the Lok Sabha Speaker. The two rules which junior minister for parliamentary affairs claimed Mann has violated—349 (xxii) and 334A—largely relates to affairs inside the House and not what Mann did outside.

“This is the reason why the matter was not automatically referred to Ethics Committee or the Privileges Committee,” said a senior official.

While Mann’s video fell possibly in the grey areas of the rule book, it was clear that he has completely exposed the details of Parliament’s security system to the world. “The RF tag system now stands vulnerable. The video shows the position of security guards. In short, he has given an easy guide on how to enter parliament and what to find inside the building for potential terrorists,” said a senior security official.

So, the Speaker, the custodian of the Parliament complex, now faces a unique problem. She needs to decide a suitable action against Mann after consulting different party leaders which would be unanimously accepted by the House. Also, she has to amend the existing security measures to plug the loopholes Mann has created.

After the Parliament attack in 2001, a committee of experts had suggested drastic security measures for the complex. Many entry points were closed, barricades came up, more para-military security was deployed at vulnerable points, bio-metric was introduced for visitors and a part of Talkatora Road was made off-limits for public. All this was done to give Parliament a full-proof security.

But Mann’s action has jeopardised the security of the Parliament, albeit partially. Mahajan has sought a report from the Parliament’s watch and ward division to get a sense of how far Mann’s video risked the security arrangement.

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