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Cash-for-vote scam report referred to home ministry

Onkar Singh in New Delhi | December 16, 2008 14:11 IST
Last Updated: December 16, 2008 16:51 IST

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Lok Sabha Speaker Somnath Chatterjee [Images] on Tuesday recommended a probe by the Home Ministry into the role of three persons who were named in the alleged cash-for-votes scam that rocked Parliament during the Confidence Motion in July.

The Speaker referred to the Home Ministry the matter related to Sanjeev Saxena, alleged aide of Samajwadi Party leader Amar Singh [Images], Sudheendra Kulkarni, a close aide of senior BJP leader L K Advani [Images], and Suhail Hindustani, a day after the parliamentary inquiry committee said there was need for further investigation into the roles played by them.

In its report submitted in Lok Sabha on Monday, the inquiry committee, headed by V Kishore Chandra Deo, had given a clean chit to Amar Singh and Ahmed Patel, political adviser to Congress President Sonia Gandhi [Images], saying the 'material on record does not conclusively prove' that they had sent money to three BJP MPs for the 'purpose of winning' them over for the Confidence Motion.

"The committee has, however, found the evidence given before the Committee by three persons involved in this episode as unconvincing and the Committee have suggested that their role in the matter needs to be investigated by investigating agencies," Chatterjee noted in the House on Tuesday.

"I am, accordingly, referring the matter pertaining to the said three persons to the Honourable Minister of Home Affairs for appropriate action in the light of the recommendations of the committee," the Speaker said.

As the Speaker finished with his statement, BJP members -- including Anant Kumar and Santosh Kumar Gangwar -- protested, saying that he had not mentioned the note of dissent given by two members of the Committee -- V K Malhotra of BJP and Mohd Saleem of CPI-M -- in the report.

Malhotra and Saleem had dissociated themselves from the report in which Amar Singh and Patel were exonerated. Members of Left parties were also on their feet on this matter.

In its 466-page report, the seven-member Lok Sabha Committee had said, 'As there is no case against Patel and no clinching evidence against Amar Singh, there is no occasion for the committee or the House to make a request to Rajya Sabha requiring them to appear before the inquiry committee for evidence'.

The committee was constituted by the Speaker after three BJP MPs Ashok Argal, Mahavir Bhagora and Faggan Singh Kulaste shocked the House by bringing a huge bag and displaying bundles of currency taken out from them.

They alleged that Singh and Patel had offered them bribes amounting to Rs 3 crore each for abstaining from voting in support of the government during the trust vote. The two had denied the charge in the media.

Chatterjee said on Tuesday that the currency notes, which were brought to and displayed in the House by the three BJP members, are currently in the custody of the Secretary General of Lok Sabha.

"As this money may be required for the purpose of investigation, if any, as suggested by the committee, it will be retained by the Secretary General for one month after which if no request is received for it for the purpose of investigation, it will be deposited with the government as unclaimed money," the speaker said.

"While the whistleblowers and those who were offered the bribe have been put under the scanner, those who offered the money have been let off. The present government has paid back to Samajvadi party by returning the debt," BJP leader Arun Jaitley said.

The BJP said that major portions of the committee's findings were not even mentioned. It has ignored a letter written by Amar Singh that Sanjeev Saxena is his political secretary and he had been holding press conferences out of his house.

Additional Inputs: PTI

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