Manmohan refutes opposition charges of buying MPs
Wednesday March 23, 2011 08:32:38 PM,
New Delhi: The
political rift in parliament widened Wednesday with the opposition
launching a stinging attack against Manmohan Singh for citing the
2009 electoral victory to defend allegations that the Congress
bought MPs to win the 2008 trust vote and the prime minister
reiterating that his government was not involved in any "illegal
An unusually combative Manmohan Singh castigated the opposition
and rejected the "wild" charges of bribery after the Left and the
Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) attacked him for his not-guilty
statement in the US diplomatic cables leaked by WikiLeaks and
published by The Hindu newspaper.
The prime minister had in his March 18 statement refuted the
charges made in the "speculative, unverified and unverifiable"
diplomatic communications and said the people had rejected the
bribery allegations by returning his government to power in the
Referring to the a parliamentary committee probe into what came to
be known as "cash-for-votes" scam, Manmohan Singh said Wednesday
the panel had concluded that there was "insufficient evidence" to
prove that MPs were purchased to save the government from falling
"I am convinced that taking the report as a whole, this is a
correct inference," Manmohan Singh said in reply to a heated
debate in the Lok Sabha. He made an identical statement in the
He said he was leaving "it to the good sense of this house to
decide whether the report of the committee in any way
substantiates the wild allegations".
Amid thumping of desks by MP's of the Congress and alliance
partners, an animated prime minister, with a smile on his face,
said it was "not for the first time" he was facing the wrath of
the opposition. "I have had to go through that as finance minister
and as prime minister. The main opposition, right from 2004,
adopted the attitude that we are a usurper."
Manmohan Singh also took a dig at his known bitter critic, veteran
Bharatiya Janata Party leader L.K. Advani who often accuses him of
being the weakest prime minister.
"Advaniji believes that prime ministership is his birthright. He
has not forgiven me. All I can say to Advaniji is that the people
of India have voted us to power in free and fair elections. Please
wait for another three-and-a-half years." Advani merely smiled.
As the opposition MPs heard him silently, the ruling benches
echoed with loud thumping of desks and peals of laughter. Congress
president Sonia Gandhi and Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee were
seen smiling and nodding their heads in agreement.
The prime minister's pointed reaction came after the BJP and the
Left parties attacked him for his not-guilty statement made on
March 18 following the WikiLeaks expose and accused him of
Leader of Opposition Sushma Swaraj, citing the 1984 anti-Sikh
riots and the 2002 sectarian violence in Gujarat, said Manmohan
Singh was rewriting criminal jurisprudence by bringing in the
electoral victory to defend his government.
Attacking the prime minister, the BJP leader asked him if he was
willing to apply the same yardstick to Gujarat Chief Minister
Narendra Modi for the 2002 anti-Muslim riots in that state.
"Election victory or defeat cannot wipe away any crime. The
episode has shamed India. It has blemished our democratic
tradition," she said and recited an Urdu couplet questioning the
prime minister's deflecting defence and his leadership qualities.
"Tu idhar udhar ki na baat kar, yeh bata ki qaafila kyon loota;
hamein rahzanon se gila nahin, teri rehbari ka sawaal hai." (Don't
talk hearsay, tell us why the caravan was looted; we have no
grouse against dacoits but it is a question of your leadership).
Injecting humour into the otherwise hostile proceedings Manmohan
Singh turned on the wit to reply in the same coin: "Maana ki teri
deed ke qaabil nahin hoon main; too mera shouq tou dekh, mera
intezaar tou dekh." (I understand that I am not worth your gaze;
but have a look at my keenness, have a look at my anticipation for
Communist Party of India (CPI) Lok Sabha leader Gurudas Dasgupta,
who initiated the debate, said the prime minister's justification
of highlighting the electoral victory after the 2008 episode
"cannot hide criminality if it has been committed".
The upper house also witnessed an early afternoon debate that was
less noisy than the animated one in the lower house.
Sushma Swaraj's Rajya Sabha counterpart Arun Jaitley and Home
Minister P. Chidambaram exchanged heated arguments.
Jaitley said: "If the government of India wants to verify and you
have honesty of purpose, they are verifiable because some of the
evidence is very strong evidence in a criminal case of
bribe-giver." He alleged that the shortfall in members during the
trust vote was covered by "retail purchase of parliamentarians".
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