The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Tehelka row

New Delhi, Dec. 19: The Tehelka ghost returned to the Lok Sabha today, a day before the winter session concludes, reports our special correspondent.

The Opposition, especially the Left parties, accused the Centre of trying to cover up on Tehelka and demanded a joint parliamentary committee inquiry.

Samata Party and BJP members obstructed their own minister from making a statement on the issue, forcing the Chair to adjourn the House before the lunch recess. Samata members shouted slogans against Congress chief Sonia Gandhi.

Later in the day, the Chair told the Left members their request for an adjournment motion to discuss the matter had been rejected.

Law minister K. Jana Krishnamurthi, however, would make a statement tomorrow.

The Congress, which was earlier at the forefront of the attack on the Tehelka scam, offered only token support today.

This gave rise to speculation that the party does not want to give the Samata an opportunity to throw mud at Sonia.

While the Congress, the Left, the RJD and the IUML walked out when defence minister George Fernandes rose to speak during question hour, the ADMK, the Samajwadi Party and the Nationalist Congress Party stayed put.

The Congress, the Left and the RJD shouted “we don’t recognise” Fernandes as defence minister because he is yet to be cleared by the one-man inquiry commission of Justice K. Venkataswami, who quit recently.

Continuing their months-long protest, Congress’ Priya Ranjan Das Munshi, CPM’s Basudeb Acharya and others quoted news reports that the country’s chief justice had not nominated anyone yet to replace Justice Venkataswami.

As they walked out, members of the Samata, the Shiv Sena and the BJP protested against their “attitude” and urged Speaker Manohar Joshi to take action against them.

Later during zero hour, Opposition and ruling party members clashed again on Tehelka.

The Congress, the Left and the RJD accused the BJP and its allies of trying to protect a “scam-tainted minister”. They insisted that the Centre make a statement on the fate of the inquiry after Justice Venkataswami’s resignation.

As deputy Speaker P.M. Sayeed called on minister of state for parliamentary affairs Santosh Gangwar to present the Centre’s version, Samata, BJP and Sena members demanded that they be heard before he spoke.

The din continued with Opposition members shouting “we want JPC”. Samata members Raghuanth Jha and Prabhunath Singh countered them with “murti chor, Bharat choro (antique thief, leave the country)”, aimed at Sonia.

Some angry Congress members stormed the well, but were persuaded to return to their seats.

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