Home India Politics Sushma defends TV sting ahead of July 2008 trust vote

Sushma defends TV sting ahead of July 2008 trust vote


New Delhi: Senior Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader Sushma Swaraj Thursday defended the television sting operation reportedly organised by her party to expose alleged pay-offs to buy MPs ahead of the July 2008 trust vote in parliament, saying there was nothing wrong with the effort.

Swaraj, who is leader of the opposition in the Lok Sabha, however said it would be “incorrect” to say the BJP leaders, named by a magazine to have organised the sting operation, were guilty of entrapment.

Noting that her party was ready for an investigation into its role in what has now come to be known as the “cash-for-votes” controversy, she reiterated the demand for a CBI probe into the entire episode.

On July 22, 2008, three BJP MPs had walked into the Lok Sabha with wads of Indian currency and waved them in front of the speaker’s podium, claiming there was an attempt to buy them in favour of the government’s confidence motion.

“If the BJP did plan a sting to prove that the Congress was willing to buy MPs to survive a trust vote in 2008, there’s nothing wrong with that,” Sushma Swaraj said in an interview to NDTV.

“It is, however, incorrect that BJP leaders are guilty of entrapment, and the party is open to an investigation of its role,” she said about the controversy.

A report by Tehelka news magazine alleged that the sting operation was a trap plotted by the BJP.

The opposition led by the BJP has attacked the government on the issue after WikiLeaks exposed an US embassy cable that claimed its diplomat was shown two chests stuffed with Rs.50-60 crore by a Congress leader who claimed it was meant to buy votes.

After the three BJP MPs waved cash inside the lower house, a parliamentary committee probed the allegations.

While the government claimed the committee was inconclusive about the bribery charges, the BJP maintained that it had only recommended further probe by an appropriate agency and had named individuals as bribe givers.

In Parliament Wednesday, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had led an offensive by the ruling party against the opposition and he had also used an Urdu couplet to defend himself from Sushma Swaraj’s spirited attack.

Asked about the prime minister’s defence, Sushma Swaraj said: “The prime minister did not answer my questions, but his Urdu couplet was a very charming moment in parliament.”

She also dismissed as a “myth” the reported factionalism in the BJP.