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Last Updated: Friday, 23 December 2005, 17:29 GMT
Indian MPs expelled for 'bribes'
India's Parliament House
Parliament has been rocked by a string of allegations
India's parliament has expelled 11 of its members over a cash-for-questions scandal after an unprecedented vote.

Ten MPs were thrown out of the lower house and one from the upper house after they were secretly taped apparently accepting bribes.

The opposition BJP walked out of parliament over the move, saying that while the MPs should be punished, removing them was unjustified.

Some of the MPs recorded in the videotape said they had been framed.

It is the first time since 1951 that any MP has been expelled for corruption and the biggest single expulsion ever.

This a very sad occasion... But some duties have to be discharged however painful they are
Pranab Mukherjee,
defence minister

Parliament Speaker Somnath Chatterjee said all members had condemned acts of corruption.

"There will be no compromise on acts of corruption," he told journalists.

But opposition Bharatiya Janata Party leader LK Advani said: "It was unbecoming conduct on the part of the involved members. But this kind of punishment is unjustified."

Sting operation

Six of the MPs belong to the BJP, three to the regional Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) and one each to the ruling Congress Party and its ally, the Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD).

"At no cost should we allow parliament's image to be tarnished," Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said while speaking in the upper house.

Somnath Chatterjee
Speaker Chatterjee received a report on the issue on Thursday

On Thursday, a committee probing the allegations submitted its report to Speaker Chatterjee, recommending that the 10 MPs named there be expelled.

Defence Minister Pranab Mukherjee, who opened the debate, said the MPs needed to go to "defend the dignity of the house".

"Let us rise to the occasion, take our courage in our hands and face the consequences," he said.

"This is a very sad occasion... But some duties have to be discharged however painful they are."

The MPs were all secretly videotaped by news website Cobrapost and TV news channel Aaj Tak allegedly accepting money in return for asking questions in parliament.

"For submitting all these questions MPs took money ranging between 15,000 rupees ($325) and 110,000 rupees ($2,400)," Cobrapost editor Aniruddha Bahal said.

On Tuesday, Mr Chatterjee ordered an investigation into a second scandal, after seven MPs were seen allegedly asking for bribes on Indian television.

India's Star News channel broadcast video footage of the MPs apparently seeking a commission to approve public works projects in their constituencies.

At least one of the MPs has challenged the accusation.


BBC NEWS: VIDEO AND AUDIO
Why some MPs staged a walk-out over the expulsions



SEE ALSO:
India MPs suspended for 'bribes'
12 Dec 05 |  South Asia
Politician denies bribing witness
22 Dec 04 |  South Asia
Minister quits after bribe claims
17 Nov 03 |  South Asia
Party boss quits after web sting
13 Mar 01 |  South Asia


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