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Shekhawat to examine NDA leaders' letters

Special Correspondent

A double-edged sword, cautions Chairman

NEW DELHI: : Following persistent demands, the Rajya Sabha Chairman, Bhairon Singh Shekhawat, on Wednesday said he would examine the letters written by two "senior" National Democratic Alliance leaders to the Finance Minister, P. Chidambaram, and decide whether or not their names should be revealed.

Mr. Chidambaramon Monday told the Lok Sabha that the two had requested him to withdraw the ordinance promulgated to collect dues from tobacco giant ITC.

`A question of probity'

While Mr. Shekhawat advocated caution saying motives could be attributed in future to any letter written by an MP to the Government, Jairam Ramesh (Congress) said the names should be disclosed as probity in public life was at stake. "It is more than a question of names because the NDA is boycotting Parliament on probity." The Chairman did not agree: "This is a double-edged sword. If an MP writes on a matter of policy and the exchequer suffers losses, motives will be imputed. You are not realising what this would lead to."

Dipankar Mukherjee (Communist Party of India-Marxist) said if the names were not revealed he would move a privilege motion against a newspaper for publishing the names of the MPs and " bringing their names into disrepute." None of his party colleagues would write to the Government a letter that should remain a secret. The curtains on the exchanges came down after the Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs, Suresh Pachouri, said the letters would be given to Mr. Shekhawat and information whether the names should be revealed could be given the next day.

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