Cash-for-vote debate: Govt comes under attack

The Lok Sabha is holding a debate on PM`s statement on WikiLeaks` cash-for-votes scam expose.

Updated: Mar 23, 2011, 13:50 PM IST

New Delhi: A united Opposition on Wednesday mounted
attack on Prime Minister Manmohan Singh over the cash-for-
votes scam wondering as to how he could wash his hands of the
matter as he had headed the government in 2008 and was the
"biggest beneficiary" of the trust vote.

Leader of the Opposition Sushma Swaraj made a stinging
attack on Singh in the Lok Sabha telling him that as head of
the government he should take responsibility instead of making
others scapegoat for the omissions and commissions of his
regime.

"It is the habit of the Prime Minister to blame others. If
it is price rise then (Agriculture Minister) Sharad Pawar
is responsible, if it is 2G then (former telecom minister) A
Raja is responsible and if it is Commonwealth Games then
(Suresh) Kalmadi is to blame," she said.

"`I don`t know anything, I am not aware of anything, there
are coalition compulsions and I am not that much guilty as I
am made out to be` ...the people are fed up with such excuses.
They are asking why you are the Prime Minister," she said
participating in a discussion.

"The issue involves your leadership," she said, quoting an
Urdu couplet which means one should not make any excuse but
tell how the caravan got looted. The Prime Minister was
present in the House and was listening intently to the debate.

Earlier, initiating the discussion on the Prime Minister`s
statement on the WikiLeaks’ expose in connection with the
cash-for-votes scam, CPI leader Gurudas Dasgupta accused Singh
of resorting to "Parliamentary piracy" to win the vote of
confidence in 2008 and demanded that he come clean.

He said the report of a Parliamentary panel on the scam
had clearly recommended "investigation by an appropriate
agency" into the alleged attempts to purchase votes to win the
trust vote on the Indo-US civil nuclear deal.

"It`s a case of Parliamentary piracy because some members
were hijacked. The suspicion is that organised group of
political gangsters were at work," he said.

Dasgupta`s remarks terming the alleged scam as an act of
"Parliamentary piracy" and the handiwork of "organised groups
of political gangsters" drew an angry retort from the ruling
benches.

As the CPI leader demanded a probe into large-scale
absenteeism in the Opposition benches during the trust vote,
ruling members, including Congress member Raj Babbar, were on
their feet protesting the reference.

Taking objection to Prime Minister`s remarks that the UPA
had returned to power even after the alleged scam, Dasgupta
said "electoral verdict cannot condone criminality if it has
been perpetrated".

He said the Congress had polled only 25 per cent votes in
the General Elections but did not want to draw any conclusion
from it. "I make no conclusion. I do not say it is a minority
government," he said.

However, this contention by the Prime Minister gives
credence to the `might is right` theory.

"Might is right is a dangerous proposition that does not
fit-in in a democracy," he said.

Last week, the Prime Minister had hit out at the
Opposition for giving "dignity" to an "unverified
communication", and pointed out that the Congress had won the
2009 Lok Sabha Elections and that the tally of the Opposition
parties had reduced considerably.

Despatches by American diplomats, leaked by WikiLeaks and
published in a national daily, purportedly claim that payoffs
had been made to MPs to ensure a majority for the Congress-led
government in the confidence vote following differences over
the India-US nuclear deal in 2008.

As per the cables, a US diplomat was told Rs 50-60 crore
was kept aside by the Congress party to get some Opposition
members of the Lok Sabha on board before the trust vote in
July 2008 during the first tenure of the UPA government.

"I concede that the PM was precise in his statement and
the statement was cogent. PM was very prompt in throwing the
ball in the court of the Opposition, his tone was very firm,
normally he is not. He was firm in rejecting the complaints on
cash-for-votes during the last no confidence motion," said
Dasgupta.

The CPI leader said linguistic fervour was used to conceal
the facts. "Strong is the language of the weak and persuasive
is the language of the strong," he said.

PTI