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Controversial tapes on cash-for-vote go on air

August 11, 2008 22:47 IST

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The controversial tapes on the cash-for-vote scam that shocked Parliament during the trust vote were telecast on Monday night by TV channel CNN-IBN, which showed Samajwadi Party leader Reoti Raman Singh in conversation with three Bharatiya Janata Party MPs who later claimed they were sought to be bribed for support to the government.

The tapes, which have been submitted by the channel to the Parliamentary committee probing the bribery allegations, show the MPs with a person named "Sanjeev" who purportedly gives them Rs 1 crore, which is placed on a table.

The three BJP MPs -- Ashok Argal, Faggan Singh Kulaste and Mahaveer Bhagora -- earlier had alleged that they were given the money to abstain during the government's confidence motion on July 22. They had displayed bundles of currency notes in the House.

The three MPs had accused Samajwadi Party leaders Amar Singh [Images] and Reoti Raman Singh as being behind the bribery attempt, which both have already denied. Amar Singh does not figure in the tapes, although the persons in the recording are seen referring to some "Singhji".

Asked by the channel whether the three MPs were trying to cross over and the BJP leadership had forced them into the operation, BJP leader Arun Jaitley said they had complained that while they had been rebuffing the attempts, media was carrying their names as "suspects".

"So, we told them to take a bold step and become whistle blowers," he said.

The channel said when it tried to talk to Reoti Raman Singh, he refused to appear on camera. He told the channel that BJP MPs were calling him for quite some time and so he went to talk to them in a house at Ferozeshah Road.

He also said he had never used the word "amount" nor did he indulge in such politics any time in his career.

Argal said they could never be "sold".

The first part of the tape shows Reoti Raman trying to convince the three BJP MPs to come along with him to an unknown person's place, where the "amount" can be discussed.

The MPs appeared reluctant to go out and instead wanted to discuss the matter over phone with the unknown man.

Reoti Raman on his part is seen coaxing the MPs to come along with him as the matter cannot be discussed on phone.

He is also recorded as saying that if the MPs have any doubts, then they can refuse as nobody is forcing them to do so.

The second part of the recording has a conversation between the three BJP MPs and "Sanjeev", whom the BJP had alleged was an associate of SP leader Amar Singh. Amar Singh had, however, denied that he was his aide.

Sanjeev, according to the tape, is at Argal's residence and has brought along Rs 1 crore for the MPs. He is also shown placing the money on the table.

As per the conversation, Sanjeev makes Argal and Bhagora talk to an unknown person on the phone.

Bhagora is shown telling the unknown person on phone that he could not come to his place due to a pre-occupation, and later Argal takes over the phone and tells the person on the other side that Rs 1 crore has been received by them.

The money is then shown being placed back in a bag. Bhagora is again shown talking to the unknown person, and asking the person to deliver the rest of the money at Argal's place. Sanjeev is then shown leaving.

The CNN-IBN team also tried to trace Sanjeev Saxena, the person shown in the sting operation, to a place which it claimed was his residence in Delhi [Images]. They, however, found nobody there though some people were seen telling the channel that he lived there with his wife, but was not seen since July 22, the day of the confidence vote.

On the other hand, Amar Singh denied that Sanjeev Saxena was employed by him "directly". He told the channel that Saxena was never under his "direct recruitment".

He said that Saxena used to visit his political office at 9, South Avenue, which was under the name of Shahid Siddiqui [Images], the SP Rajya Sabha MP, who is now with Bahujan Samaj Party.

Siddiqui has already rubbished Amar Singh's claim.

The SP leader insisted that there was nothing substantial in the tapes to prove that he was being referred to by the said persons.

Jaitley told CNN-IBN that the BJP had "clinching evidence" to prove that Saxena was associated with Amar Singh. He claimed that BJP could also prove that the vehicle in which Saxena came to Argal's residence was registered in the name of Amar Singh's relative.

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