Aam Aadmi Party MP Bhagwant Mann on Thursday triggered a controversy by posting a video on social media of Parliament’s security pickets and internal security positions.
In the video, Mann gives a running commentary as his vehicle crosses security barricades, while entering Parliament. “I’ll today show you something you would not have seen earlier,” he says.
He enters a room where questions are being sorted and describes the process. A security official is heard telling him not to take photographs, but he replies: “I’ll not take photo… will maintain confidentiality.”
After facing flak for his act, the AAP MP defended his move saying he was only showing people how the Parliament functions. “Is it illegal, inappropriate to post a video which shows procedure of how questions are taken up in Parliament during question hour,” Bhagwant Mann said.
“Kya meri video se sansad khatre mein aa gyi. (Did my video pose a security threat to Parliament),” asked the AAP MP. “I will post a video again tomorrow. Let me be served a notice.”
The BJP widely criticised Mann for his “highly irresponsible” act and said he should have shown some sense. “He (Bhagwant Mann) should have had some sense. There already has been an attack on Parliament,” said BJP’s RK Singh.
Other BJP leaders such as Tarun Chugh took a dig at Aam Aadmi Party for becoming a shelter for comedians. He said the way the AAP MP has leaked the security of the Lok Sabha and the way he has put the video on social media is a deception to the nation’s security. “Bhagwant Mann calls it a matter of pride and says he will again show it. I think the AAP has become a shelter of comedians, which doesn’t have an ideology. Its aim is to create sensation. These kinds of people are threat to the nation’s unity,” he added.
“I think Bhagwant Mann has even now not come out of the character of a person who cracks jokes. This is Lok Sabha…not a stage of a ‘madaari’. Earlier too, the Parliament has tolerated a big attack. Many of our sons had died in the attack. Bhagwant Mann today insulted those sons,” he added.
Echoing similar sentiments, Minister of State for Minority Affairs Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi said no one should play with the security of Parliament at a time when already a terror attack has taken place. “Uploading video of the interior of Parliament, which is prohibited, is not right. The Parliamentary Secretariat will look into the matter,” he added.
Meanwhile on Friday, Lok Sabha speaker Sumitra Mahajan urged every parliamentarian to maintain dignity inside House. “Matter is serious and I understand that appropriate action must be taken. I will see to it.”
BJP leader Shaina NC also condemned his act saying, “By uploading this kind of sensitive material on social media, he is not doing any service, he is doing a disservice to the sanctity of Parliament.”
Mann, however, continued to be defiant when he maintained that he did not play with the security. “I never wanted to put security at risk. I think that I have not done anything that harms security.” But the MP later also said that he would apologise to the Lok Sabha Speaker if he was told that he had committed a mistake.
In the meantime, Fatehgarh Sahib MP Harinder Singh Khalsa, who was suspended from AAP, took a shot at the Sangrur MP when he accused Mann of coming to Lok Sabha in an inebriated state. In a letter to the Lok Sabha Speaker, Khalsa requested a seat change, alleging Mann who sits next to him comes to the House in an inebriated state.
“I feel nauseous, disastrous. It is a torture, an atrocity. I sit on seat number 495 and come to Lok Sabha after performing puja-path. And then seat number 496 gives me nausea. Terrible foul alcohol smell makes it difficult for me to breathe,” said Khalsa speaking to The Indian Express over phone.
Maan is being charged with breaching the following Lok Sabha rules:
# . 334(A) – Prohibits advance publicity
#352 – No inter-alia video recording
#Press and Publication Rules – For any recording, certain areas like security gates etc not to be recorded (which he has done)
# Case of security breach – Considered as compromise of security and grave misdemeanor
Only today a police complaint was filed at the Parliament Street Police Station in New Delhi after the controversy broke out on Thursday.
Even after all the brouhaha over the MP’s act, the Aam Aadmi Party on Friday defended the lawmaker, saying he was only trying to “show” the procedure of asking questions which did not amount to security breach.
“Bhagwant Mann was only trying to show to the people how only 20 names were picked from a draw to ask questions (during the Zero Hour)… since representatives from all areas of the country have the right to ask questions in Parliament, this lucky draw system leaves many MPs without a chance to put forth their questions,” AAP leader Ashutosh said.
“Parliament cannot be run by just lucky draw,” he said. Another senior AAP leader said, “It was an innocuous video and it was certainly avoidable. He has been told to be careful in future.”
Meanwhile, Mann, who appeared before Lok Sabha Speaker Sumitra Mahajan after being summoned, has tendered an unconditional apology for his controversial video, which caused an uproar in both Houses of Parliament today.
In view of the controversy, the Home Ministry has said it is likely to suggest upgrading the electronic security system for vehicles and individuals, including parliamentarians. Concerned over Mann shooting the controversial video, which allegedly exposed the security apparatus in the complex, the Home Ministry is likely to suggest upgrading of Under Vehicle Surveillance System (UVSS) and Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) Tags in the Parliament complex.
The UVSS delivers the full picture of a vehicle’s entire width and length and the RFID identifies and tracks tags attached to objects and individuals. “There is a need for complete overall of the security system in the Parliament complex on a priority basis,” a senior Home Ministry official said.