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BJP MP Katara may be referred to ethics panel

The NDA calls for an all-party meet to discuss involvement of parliamentarians in human trafficking cases.

india Updated: Apr 25, 2007 16:01 IST

The National Democratic Alliance (NDA) is likely to agree to refer the case of Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) MP Babulal Katara to parliament's ethics committee during the all party meeting Wednesday to discuss the involvement of parliamentarians in human trafficking.

The NDA met in the morning, before Lok Sabha Speaker Somnath Chatterjee called all political parties to discuss the issue, which unravelled last week when Katara was caught at the airport while trying to smuggle a woman and a teenage boy to Toronto on his family's diplomatic passports.

Besides Katara, who represents Dahod in Gujarat, other MPs being questioned in the case are BJP's Ram Swaroop Koli and Bahujan Samaj Party's Mohammad Tahir Khan, Mitrasaen Yadav and Ashok Rawat.

Those who attended the NDA meeting at the residence of former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee included opposition leader LK Advani, Janata Dal-United (JD-U) president Sharad Yadav as well as leaders of the Shiromani Akali Dal, Biju Janata Dal and Shiv Sena.

Instead of directly opposing the demand to send the matter to privileges or ethics committees of parliament, they decided to oppose stringent parliamentary action like expulsion but press for all MPs implicated in criminal cases being referred to the committees.

BJP's deputy parliamentary party leader VK Malhotra stated: "Neither the party nor NDA wants any leniency for MPs caught in gross acts of wrongdoing. We would like all cases - not just the case of MPs involved in human trafficking - to be examined by the ethics panel."

The BJP appears clearly reluctant to press for any further parliamentary action against the suspended Katara at this stage, citing the precedent of other ministers and MPs against whom investigation and trial proceedings are on.

The speaker's meeting is also likely to take a macro view of the situation and is expected to adopt some measures to avoid such malpractices in the future.

While Chatterjee has termed the allegations against the MPs as "serious and grave", Parliamentary Affairs Minister Priya Ranjan Dasmunsi has said the entire establishment could not be blamed for the acts of a few "black sheep".

First Published: Apr 25, 2007 14:04 IST