The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Cong stick for errant MPs

New Delhi, May 9: The Congress high command today cracked the whip on two of its four MPs who flouted the party’s “Fernandes-boycott” stand yesterday.

Jagmeet Singh Brar was today removed as party whip in the Lok Sabha and served a showcause notice along with another on Lakshman Singh, who is Madhya Pradesh chief minister Digvijay Singh’s younger brother.

Brar had yesterday put forth questions to George Fernandes in defiance of the Congress boycott of the defence minister. Lakshman had ignored his party floor leaders’ gestures to join them in a walkout from the House as Fernandes rose to speak.

In identical showcause notices, Congress deputy leader in the Lok Sabha Shivraj Patil asked Brar and Lakshman to explain their conduct within three days. Brar has already regretted his action in a letter written yesterday.

Announcing the disciplinary action, Congress spokesman Jaipal Reddy said the high command had taken a “negative view of the behaviour of the two MPs”.

“The leadership has, however, let off former ministers K.P. Singh Deo and Vilas Muttemwar, who, too, did not join in the walkout before Brar spoke on his call attention notice to Fernandes. We have chosen not to take any action against them,” Reddy said.

The action followed soon after the ruling BJP and its National Democratic Alliance ally, the Samata Party, served breach of privilege notice against Congress president Sonia Gandhi and Patil this morning.

BJP leader Vijay Kumar Malhotra and Samata’s Prabhunath Singh and Raghunath Jha said Sonia and Patil had “attempted to intimidate” the four Congress MPs for performing their duties.

They demanded of Speaker Manohar Joshi that the notice be referred to the House committee of privileges. Joshi said he was “examining the notice”.

But Reddy, who is also the privileges committee chairman dismissed the notice. According to him, though members enjoyed certain privileges in the House, they were also subject to the whip of the party they represented under the anti-defection law inside the House and party discipline rules outside.

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