Leader of Opposition L K Advani has written to Lok Sabha Speaker Somnath Chatterjee to make public the video tapes of a TV sting done by CNN-IBN, fearing any delay would give rise to “grave doubts whether they are authentic or doctored.”
He was reacting to a front-page story in Sunday’s Hindustan Times, which he quoted in his letter, that the tapes handed to the Speaker by the channel turned up grainy footage of poor quality picture and audio quality. “Our suspicion in this regard has become stronger by media reports. The three MPs have told me that the tapes shown to them immediately after the recording were excellent quality.”
Advani, who described the matter as a “serious scandal and crude attempts to cover it up”, said the channel had assured the whistle-blowers that the recorded tape would be telecast “soon”. However, this was not done. In any democracy, it would be the grossest impropriety if the whistle-blowers are let down by the media organisation that conducted the investigation.
“It is unfortunate that the channel is now treating the material as its private property ...
He told the Speaker that, as the display of the currency notes by the MPs was watched by millions across the nation, “it stands to reason that CNN-IBN’s recording of the whistle-blowing operation must also be seen by the people at large for them to come to a well-informed conclusion. Hence, we urge you to make the tape public without any further delay.”
Arguing for a direction from the Speaker to the channel to share the entire unedited tape with the three MPs, Advani said the MPs have affirmed in their complaint to him that CNN-IBN agreed to work with them in investigating the matter and sent a team that actually recorded almost the entire trail of the bribery operation. The channel also announced that it had the tapes and had handed it over to the Speaker after the MPs waved the cash in the House.
Advani said, “However, I learnt later that the tape was actually delivered to your office the following day, after a lapse of over 24 hours. Although the channel has stated that it retains a copy of the tape and reserves the right to telecast at a future date, the long delay between the recording of the tape and its telecast (if and when it happens) would naturally raise grave doubts as to whether the tape is authentic or doctored.”
Advani told the Speaker that it is on the basis of media reports about a whistle-blowing operation that a parliamentary committee set up by him disqualified as many as 11 MPs in 2005 in what came to be known as the “cash-for-queries” scandal.
“You will agree that the ‘cash-for-votes’ scandal is far more serious, murky and dangerous than the ‘cash-for-queries’ scandal,” said Advani.