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I didn’t ask anyone to buy MPs,I am not at all involved: PM

This was Singh's reply to Wikileaks cable that hints Congress may have bought trust votes in 2008.

Written by Agencies | New Delhi |
March 18, 2011 10:24:41 am

His reign hit by one allegation of financial impropriety after another, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh clarified on Friday that the recent cash-for-votes scandal plaguing his government has nothing to do with him.

On the possibility that the Congress might have purchased a handful of MPs to bolster its numbers in the UPA-I trust vote in 2008 – as exposed by a recent Wikileaks cable – Singh said: “Certainly,I am not involved in any such things.”

He added: “I have not authorised anyone to purchase any votes. I am not aware of any purchase of votes.”

In defence of his party,Singh also said that people who have been named in the diplomatic cables have expressed serious doubts over the “veracity” of the information the leaked US diplomatic exchanges have thrown up.

The Prime Minister was speaking at a conclave organised by the ‘India Today’.

Singh said: “I have no knowledge of any such purchases and I am absolutely categorical,I have not authorised anyone to purchase any votes,” he said while replying to questions at the conclave.

“I am absolutely certain in asserting that I am not at all,I think,involved in any of these transactions,” the Prime Minister insisted.

His response,however,did not categorically clarify whether or not the purchases took place at all during the Confidence Motion on July 22,2008.

“As far as events of the last few days (are concerned) and the so-called Wikileaks,I would not like to comment,” Singh said about the Opposition’s onslaught on the government following the Wikileaks expose.

“I would not like to comment on what we are going to do right now or in days to come. These are the matters which are being discussed in Parliament. If I have anything to say,we would say in Parliament first,” he said.

On Thursday,less than a month after the resolution of the bitter 2G-JPC stalemate,Parliament was paralysed by an acrimonious standoff between the government and Opposition over the disclosure of this alleged attempt by the Congress to buy MPs before the July 2008 Lok Sabha trust vote.

The Wikileaks cable,published in the ‘The Hindu’ and part of the cache of US internal diplomatic correspondence,described a purported incident in which Nachiketa Kapur,a “political aide” of Congress leader Captain Satish Sharma,allegedly showed a US embassy employee “two chests containing cash and said that around Rs 50-60 crore was lying around… for use as pay-offs” to MPs.

A united Opposition said the UPA had lost its “moral authority and right” to remain in office,and the NDA demanded the resignation of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and his government. The Left parties demanded registration of a criminal case,an inquiry by the CBI,and a statement in Parliament by the PM.

The Congress put up a technical defence in the House,and later dismissed publication of the contents of the cable and the Opposition uproar as “irresponsible journalism” and “irresponsible politics”. The Opposition’s determination to press the issue was apparent when Leader of Opposition in Lok Sabha Sushma Swaraj led a walkout when the House met after repeated adjournments to pass the demand for grants and appropriation bill.

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