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JMM MP turns approver in bribery case against Rao

Former Jharkhand Mukti Morcha MP Shailendra Mahato turned approver in the MPs bribery case, in which former prime minister P V Narasimha Rao and 20 others have been arraigned as accused.

Mahato admitted in a four-page statement in Hindi filed in the trial court that he and three other JMM MPs, Suraj Mandal, Shibu Soren and Simon Marandi, had received Rs 50 lakh each to vote against the no-confidence motion against the Rao government on July 28, 1993. Mahato said Suraj Mandal told him the Rs 20 million paid to them ''has been sent by the prime minister''.

According to Mahato, Narasimha Rao’s relative Rajeshwara Rao, a Rajya Sabha member, told him the day after the vote that seven MPs of the breakaway group of the Janata Dal (Ajit) led by Ramlakhan Singh Yadav had also each got Rs 50 lakh, a petrol pump and a plot in Haryana for voting against the motion.

Mahato said then minister Buta Singh invited the four JMM MPs to his home on July 26, the day the monsoon session of Parliament began. Buta Singh allegedly sought the MPs’ support and told them Narasimha Rao wished to see them.

They went to the prime minister’s residence where "Rao asked for our support to save his government and said, ‘Please help us and I will also help you,’ " Mahato said in his statement, adding that Rao said he had already discussed their demands with Suraj Mandal and these would be fulfilled.

On July 28, Suraj Mandal said everything had been finalised and "we have to vote against the no-confidence motion. "All four of us voted against the no-confidence motion," Mahato said.

The next day, Mahato’s statement says, he met Rajeshwar Rao who told him that Ramlakhan Singh Yadav and his group were also getting Rs 50 lakh each besides a petrol pump and a plot of the Haryana Urban Development Authority and that those MPs who remained absent or abstained from voting would get Rs 30 lakh each. Suraj Mandal ''told me that the money has been sent by the prime minister''.

Mahato had described the whole episode after the issue came up in a Delhi court on February 26, 1996 but later began getting anonymous threatening calls. This scared him so that he did not reveal all details in the Lok Sabha on February 29, the statement said.

"I am issuing this statement based on truth and ready to accept whatever punishment is applicable to turn an approver," Mahato said in the statement.

Special Judge Ajit Bharihoke listed the application for consideration Tuesday.

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