‘WikiLeaks’ cash-for-vote scam: Can’t confirm or deny, says govt

WikiLeaks has claimed that Congress party tried to bribe Opposition MPs to support crucial Indo-US nuclear deal in 2008.

New Delhi: Under attack from Opposition on the WikLeaks cables on alleged cash for votes during the confidence vote in 2008, government on Thursday said it can neither confirm nor deny the revelations.

After an uproar in the Rajya Sabha by Opposition over the issue demanding the resignation of the government, Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee said the cables were correspondence between a sovereign government and its mission abroad.

The united Opposition today demanded resignation of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in connection with allegations of bribing MPs to win the 2008 trust vote after the Left withdrew support to the UPA-I over Indo-US nuclear deal.

Mukherjee also said the charges pertained to the 14th Lok Sabha but the government of the day was responsible to the 15th Lok Sabha.

Mukherjee said, "Each Lok Sabha is sovereign in its time. What happened in the 14th Lok Sabha cannot be decided in the 15th Lok Sabha...Government of the day is accountable to the 15th Lok Sabha and not to the 14th Lok Sabha. Whatever happened in the 14th Lok Sabha has come to an end" with the end of the tenure.

He continued by asking the Leader of the Opposition Arun Jaitley whether the newspaper publication can be proved in any court of law.

He also asked whether Jaitley was satisfied that "whatever has appeared in newspaper report is admissible in the court of law?"

Seeking clarification on Mukherjee`s statement, Jaitley said, "If what has appeared (in the newspaper) is correct, it is a commission of offence in India."

He said diplomatic immunity may be available to the US diplomats but the same cannot be claimed for offences like "bribery" committed by Indians in the country.

He disagreed with Mukherjee`s contention on the issue of accountability of then government (UPA-1) to the present Lok Sabha. "All these factors do not apply when the offence was committed outside the House," he said.

Jaitley alleged, "You are guilty of cover", which prompted a sharp reaction from Mukherjee, who retorted, "If you have the courage, go to court."