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"Operation Duryodhana" logged over 56 video, 70 audiotapes

For submitting questions, MPs allegedly took money ranging between Rs. 15,000 and Rs. 1,10,000

New Delhi: The "expose" showing 11 MPs "accepting" cash for asking questions in Parliament was carried out by a Cobrapost-Aaj Tak team through a sting operation codenamed "Operation Duryodhana."

Spread over eight months — April to November — the "investigation" logged more than 56 video and 70 audiotapes, besides recording over 900 phone calls, Cobrapost.com said.

Posing as representatives of a fictitious lobbying organisation "North Indian Small Manufacturers Association," journalists Aniruddha Bahal and Suhasini Raj penetrated the nexus between MPs and their middlemen and succeeded in having MPs, across party lines, submit more than 60 questions in Parliament's rigorous question balloting system, the portal claimed.

Out of this, at last count, 25 were selected. Sometimes, the same set of questions was put in by more than one MP, it said.

Several public interest questions

Though the bulk of the questions given to the MPs related to the welfare of small industrial units, there were also several public interest questions, such as non-performing assets and the SEBI inquiry into the 2004 stock market crash, the portal said.

For submitting all these questions, MPs allegedly took money ranging between Rs. 15,000 and Rs. 1,10,000. Some of them wanted an "annual fee" of Rs. 5 to Rs. 6 lakh for the Association to put in as many proxy questions as it wanted through the MPs concerned in Parliament, it alleged.

"Living symbol of

Indian democracy"

Cobrapost.com Editor Aniruddha Bahal of the Tehelka expose fame, who also headed the investigation, said: "Parliament is the living symbol of Indian democracy. It is where the people speak through their elected representatives and become participants in governance.

He said: "The Cobrapost team has the deepest respect for the institution of Parliament and with this investigation it is our endeavour to strengthen it further."

Besides taking cash for asking questions in Parliament, some MPs were also open to the idea and quoted their price, between a few lakhs to Rs.10 lakhs, to the reporters for organising a petition, espousing the Associatiom's cause, to be submitted in Parliament. — UNI

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