Aam Aadmi Party’s Lok Sabha member Bhagwant Mann’s video on social media showing details of his entry into Parliament House was widely condemned on Friday by Rajya Sabha members, who demanded strict action against him.
The proceedings in the upper house were stalled for the day, as ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) members trooped near the Chairman’s podium shouting slogans and demanding Man’s dismissal from the house.
As soon as the house assembled, several BJP members including Kirit Somaiya, R.K. Singh and others including from the Akali Dal were up on their feet demanding action against Mann.
Mann on Thursday shot a video clip of his journey from home to parliament, including going past the various security pickets, and uploaded it on the social media, drawing flak from various quarters for putting Parliament security in peril.
Outrage over #BhagwantMann's video derails Parliament
— Rajya Sabha TV (@rajyasabhatv) July 22, 2016
The Speaker summoned Mann to her chamber to explain his position and said to look into the matter.
The AAP lawmaker later appeared before the Speaker.
The issue was raised in the Rajya Sabha also with members including Anand Sharma of the Congress) and Sitaram Yechury of the CPI-M maintaining that the issue amounted to breach of security and privilege of members of Parliament.
Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi too described the matter as serious and said the government and the Lok Sabha Speaker are seized of it.
Deputy Chairman P.J. Kurien said there is no doubt about the seriousness of the issue. However, as pandemonium continued for a while, Kurien adjourned the house till 12 noon.
Earlier, outside Parliament, Naqvi told reporters that “the circulation of such video footage was against parliamentary rules at a time when terrorists are looking for opportunities to attack”.
“Giving out such sensitive information and video footage of sensitive areas of Parliament is wrong.”
In the video that went viral, Mann is seen giving commentary as his vehicle crosses security barricades, while going to Parliament. “I’ll today show you something you would not have seen earlier,” Mann said at the beginning of the video.
Inside Parliament, he goes into the room where the process of selection of questions for the Zero Hour is done. As he describes the process, a security official is heard telling him not to take photographs. “I’ll not take photo… will maintain confidentiality,” Mann says in his reply.
B. Mahtab (Biju Janata Dal) said the matter was more serious than mere breach of privilege and security as he believed the video was not circulated “out of mere foolishness or ignorance”. “A separate committee must be set up by the Speaker,” he demanded.
He recalled that 13 people had laid down their lives protecting Parliament premises and members on December 13, 2001 when terrorists attacked the temple of democracy.
“The matter was so serious that Sonia Gandhi who was not present in the House then had called up the then Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee and enquired about the incident,” Mahtab said.
Bhagwant Mann after that tendered an “unconditional apology” to Lok Sabha Speaker Sumitra Mahajan for posting a video on security zones in Parliament House premises.
“I have written to the Speaker tendering an unconditional apology,” Mann told reporters outside parliament premises and maintained that he had taken the video footage and circulated it on social networking sites “an-jaane mein”.
“I also have highest regard for this temple of democracy and did not want to jeopardise its security and dignity in any manner,” said Mann, who represents Punjab’s Sangrur constituency in the Lok Sabha.
He said he only wanted to tell viewers of how questions are sorted out by a system of lottery before they are taken up in the house.
Will the ‘righteous’ politician and AAP convener Arvind Kejriwal pull up his MP, ahead of Punjab polls? We’ll have to wait and watch.