The Lok Sabha ethics panel has launched a probe into a sting operation, which allegedly caught Trinamool leaders taking bundles of bribe money, by seeking incriminating video tapes from Narada News. It also asked the media portal to provide it with a full transcript of the video.
Source said the panel may also look into the “possible motive” of the sting operation, considering that it was carried out just before the West Bengal assembly elections.
The ethics panel has not served notices to the Trinamool MPs seen in the video.
A source on the panel said that “principles of natural justice” will be followed in conducting the probe. “Before asking the accused to respond, we should first see if the tapes are fake or not. Also, all the allegations have come only through the media. The committee must check the tapes themselves to view the content,” he said.
The Trinamool Congress, meanwhile, continues to dub the tapes as fake. In her public rallies, chief minister Mamata Banerjee has accused the Opposition of using money from underworld kingpins to dent her party’s image. Narada News, for its part, swears by the authenticity of the tapes.
The sting operation, which comes two years after the Sharada chitfund scam, has dealt a veritable blow to the Trinamool Congress. In the tape, MPs such as Saugata Ray, Suvendu Adhikary, Sultan Ahmed and Prasun Banerjee were seen taking money from a journalist pretending to be a businessperson. The Congress and the CPI(M) had demanded a CBI probe into the incident.
The Rajya Sabha ethics panel will also probe the sting video separately because its MP, Mukul Roy, had also featured in the operation.