July 1, 2009 5:54:18 pm
A Congress MP in the eye of a storm for slapping a rural bank manager in Andhra Pradesh–an incident caught on camera– has been booked by police and an inquiry was ordered by the party leadership on Wednesday.
M Jagannath,the Congress MP from Nagarkurnool,said he was “sorry” for the incident in Mahabubnagar district on Monday but denied having slapped the manager.
The MP claimed his hand only touched the cheek of Ravinder Reddy,a manager of a AP Grameen Vikas bank branch,when he tried to put it round his shoulder.
Employees of the Grameen banks in the Congress-ruled state were up in arms and staged protests in several districts and stopped disbursal of loans under government schemes. The bank branch where the incident happened has threatened to go on strike from Thursday.
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Police booked a case against the MP on charges of assault and use of criminal force to deter a public servant from discharge of his duty and said investigation was on.
“We have booked the case on various charges like assault. Investigation is on,” a police official said.
The manager claimed he was manhandled and his shirt torn. Congress spokesman Manish Tiwari said in New Delhi that Veerappa Moily,the party in-charge of AP,has ordered an inquiry. The state PCC was directed to look into the incident and submit a report,he said.
Describing the incident as regrettable and unfortunate,Tiwari said there are in-house mechanisms to deal with the incident after a report is submitted but refused to speculate what action could be taken against the MP.
He said prima facie it appears (on tape) that what was shown perhaps happened. “He challenged me to come to the bank. I wanted to put my hand on his shoulder but he pulled back. In the process,my hand happened to touch his cheek,” Jagannath said in Hyderabad trying to suggest that if there was anything physical it was by mistake.
He said he did not intend to slap the bank manager who,he claimed was not disbursing loan amounts to the SC/ST beneficiaries.
The MP,who said he will meet party president Sonia Gandhi on Thursday,claimed he was treated with disrespect because he was a Dalit.
The MP alleged that the manager gave an improper reply when he called him up during a meeting of the mandal officials and public representatives to find out the reasons for not distributing the loans.
The AP Regional Rural Banks Employees Association (APRRBEA) stepped up its protests in eight districts of the state,where it operates.
“We are organising protests in 8 districts. Other PSU banks like SBI,Andhra Bank have expressed solidarity with us. We are submitting a memorandum to the Mahabubnagar district Collector,” an Association spokesman said.
Describing the incident as “most unfortunate”,Law Minister M Veerappa Moily said he did not think anybody,more so a member of Parliament,could indulge in such an act.
“It is most unfortunate. I don’t think anybody should indulge in such things…Members of Parliament should be more responsible and he should not have done it,” Moily said in New Delhi.
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