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Parliamentary probe begins into 'cash-for-vote' scam

The Parliamentary committee examining the 'cash-for-vote' scam got down to business on Monday by viewing audio and video tapes of the sting operation about the scandal which rocked the Lok Sabha during the trust vote on July 22.

The seven-member committee will also record the evidence on August 7 of three BJP MPs who shocked the nation by tabling bundles of currency notes alleging that the money was given to them as bribes to abstain from the trust vote.

The committee headed by senior Congress MP V Kishore Chandra Deo has been asked to submit its report by August 11. But Deo said the panel will seek extension till the month-end to complete its task.

After watching the tapes for nearly three hours, the committee has asked the Lok Sabha Secretariat to make the transcript available to the members.

The committee also asked CNN-IBN channel, which had conducted the sting operation but came under BJP's attack for not telecasting it, to send its representative on August 11, Deo said.

In their petition seeking a probe into the charge that attempt was made to bribe them to get their support in the trust vote, the three MPs -- Ashok Argal, Fagan Singh Kulaste and Mahavir Bhagora -- are believed to have named SP General Secretary Amar Singh and Congress leader Ahmed Patel. Both members of Rajya Sabha denied the charge.

Panel receives two more tapes

The committee also received two more tapes -- one from Amar Singh and another from expelled BJP leader Uma Bharti, who has been alleging the hands of the saffron party itself in the scam.

Deo said the panel is not in a hurry to see the two tapes. "We have not seen them. We will watch them later if need be and whether they are relevant to the present case," he said.

Deo also said that the committee will summon Samajwadi Party MP Reoti Raman Singh at a later stage. Singh, who represents Allahabad constituency, is a member of the Lok Sabha unlike Amar Singh and Patel who are members of the Upper House.

Reoti Raman Singh has also been named by the three BJP MPs in their complaint.

Deo avoided a direct reply whether Amar Singh and Patel would be summoned by the committee. "We have not come to that stage," he said.

Replying to a question whether the committee could recommend expulsion of any members if found guilty, Deo said that the panel has the power even to recommend imprisonment for 40 days from from the last day of the session.


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