Cash-for-votes: BJP feliciates Kulkarni, other accused


New Delhi: The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) Saturday felicitated Sudheendra Kulkarni, ex-advisor to former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, and four others who were accused in the 2008 cash-for-votes scam that rocked the Manmohan Singh government ahead of a trust vote.

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“When they brought the money in parliament, they showed how parliament had been turned into a market where MPs were being bought,” Leader of Opposition in the Lok Sabha Sushma Swaraj said at a ceremony where Kulkarni, sitting MP Ashok Argal, former MPs Mahavir Singh Bhagora, Faggan Singh Kulaste and alleged political activist Suhail Hindustani were hailed as heroes.

“The parliament should have honoured them then but instead they were found guilty of contempt of parliament,” she said.

She said Argal, Kulaste and Bhagora — all sitting MPs then — had told party leaders that some of the MPs were being offered money to vote in favour of Congress.

“We asked them to capture it on video camera as proof,” she said.

On July 22, 2008, the three leaders waved wads of currency notes in the Lok Sabha just hours ahead of a trust vote, alleging they were given the money to vote in favour of the Manmohan Singh government.

Kulkarni had been charged as co-conspirator and master-minding the entire event along with then Samajwadi Party leader Amar Singh.

Sushma Swaraj said it was Wikileaks that exposed cash was distributed during the trust vote to save the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government.

She also said the BJP thought justice will be done when Supreme Court ordered an enquiry into the scam. “We thought that now the real culprits will be punished but the Delhi Police found these people guilty and threw them in jail,” she added.

“They then said their probe had found that the money was given by Amar Singh and he was jailed. But if Amar Singh is guilty how can those who exposed him be guilty too?” she said.

“But for whom was Amar Singh was working? He was not in the government, not a minister. So, the real culprits for whom he was working have not even been questioned by police. Who are the beneficiaries,” she added.

Sushma Swaraj said Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had told the parliament that Congress had nothing to do with it. “It was the Congress government that was at stake..If you had nothing to do with it then who would,” she asked.

BJP president Nitin Gadkari said the four were “innocent” but were imprisoned.

“These people were charged on false counts and were subjected to injustice and who was the beneficiary? 19 MPs were bought and still you call the prime minister honest. By whose permission were those MPs bought, can UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi answer?,” she said.

Granting the four – Kulkarni, Kulaste and Bhagora, Rajya Sabha MP Amar Singh’s former aide Sanjeev Saxena and Hindustani — bail on Nov 16, the Delhi High Court said there was no evidence of illegal gratification.

Amar Singh has already been granted bail on health grounds.

Hindustani and Saxena were arrested July 17, while Kulaste was arrested Sep 6, alongwith Bhagora and Amar Singh. Kulkarni was held on Sep 27.