A Lok Sabha MP who faked a car sticker in a serious breach of security at Parliament House last year might have reasons to smile. The House Ethics Committee that probed the case has let him off with a simple “expression of displeasure”.
But sources who followed the incident closely are aghast. They insist the ethics panel’s report is significant for what it concealed — rather than revealed — about the anatomy of its probe.
It's all very well that the panel headed by former prime minister Chandrashekhar “closed the matter” after V.P. Singh, the BJP MP from Bhilwara, accepted his mistake. What cannot easily be explained, however, is the fact that the member under probe was — at his party’s bidding — allowed to sit on the very sub-committee on whose findings the ethics panel based its obviously indulgent recommendation.
In its original report, the sub-panel headed by the Congress’s Manoranjan Bhakta had recommended Singh’s “reprimand” for using the hologram on an underwear to fake the sticker pasted on the Mercedes car (DL-6C-3124) he drove into Parliament on August 16, 2005.
But the BJP would have none of it. Still smarting from the expulsion of its 10 MPs in the cash-for-query scam, the saffron party intervened at the highest level with the ailing Chandrashekhar, who reportedly asked the Bhakta sub-committee to review its decision.
The quid pro quo they worked out entailed an expression of regret by Singh to enable the sub-panel take a lenient view of his misdemeanor.
And to perhaps ensure the happy ending, the BJP leader who spoke to Chandrashekhar was present at the ethics panel's full meeting that finalised the report tabled in the House on Friday.