BJP targets Manmohan Singh in Rayja Sabha on cash-for-votes scam

Leader of the opposition Arun Jaitley alleged that UPA-I was short of majority in 2008 following withdrawal of support by the Left parties which it made up by "procurement" of MPs.

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Targetting Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, opposition BJP today contested his argument that the 2009 poll victory proved nothing wrong had happened during the 2008 trust vote and alleged that UPA-I had survived because of "retail purchase of parliamentarians".

Initiating a short-duration discussion on the prime minister's statement on cash-for-votes, leader of the opposition Arun Jaitley alleged that UPA-I was short of majority in 2008 following withdrawal of support by the Left parties which it made up by "procurement" of MPs.

"Bribes and inducements were offered (to MPs) to cross-vote," he said in the Rajya Sabha, adding bribes paid to MPs were video recorded. This shortage in majority was made up by "retail purchase of parliamentarians."

Jaitley said the leaked cables sent by the US embassy in India to Washington, first accessed by 'The Hindu' daily, are corroborative evidence which can be verified as the two countries have agreements to cooperate in criminal investigations.

He tore into prime minister's statement that the parliamentary committee which went into the cash-for-votes case found insufficient evidence of bribery, saying "criminality is determined by investigating agency and courts and not by parliamentary committees."

Quoting from parts of the report, Jaitely said the panel had not recommended closure of the case for want of sufficient evidence. The committee, he said, wanted the bribery should be probed by an investigating agency.

The report brings out that Sanjeev Saxena, an alleged representative of senior leader whose party supported UPA, was "wittingly or unwittingly a bribe giver," he said.

Reading parts of the report, Jaitley said the prime minister's statement that the parliamentary committee had concluded insufficient evidence, was not true.

Jaitley said a cable per se may not be an evidence but the diplomat's statement that he was shown cash chest meant to be paid to buy MPs and his conversation with the alleged representative of a senior Congress leader, is corroborative evidence.

On prime minister's statement that Congress came back to power with larger numbers in 2009 despite the bribery allegations being made by the opposition in the election campaign, he said the statement was a "very serious question addressed to public morality."

"Does electoral (victory) or populism condone criminalisation," he asked.

He said if criminal proceedings are to end once a person is elected, then by that logic the corollary should also be true.

Seeking to draw a parallel to 1989 general elections, Jaitley said the elections were fought only on the Bofors kick-backs and so the loss of Congress should be construed as guilt of the ruling party as also its prime minister.

"What happened in 2008 was a fraud on Indian democracy," he said.

Without naming Samajwadi Party or its leader Mulayam Singh Yadav, Jaitley said a leading political party changed its stand and supported the UPA after CBI soft-pedalled cases against its top leader.

"Why did the political party support the government during the debate (on the no-confidence motion in July 2008) and not thereafter," he said.

The BJP leader said MPs had complained that "approaches" were being made to them. Three of his party MPs "decided to act, at great personal risk, as whistle-blower" and helped investigative journalists tape money givers on camera.

Without naming anyone, he said one representative of a senior leader supporting UPA went to the three BJP MPs and made cash offer, which was recorded on camera. Thereafter, the three MPs drove down to "another gentlemen" where money was delivered and conversation recorded on camera.

The courier who carried money has been mentioned in the Parliamentary committee report that went into the cash-for-vote case, he said.

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