In a conversation with rediff.com, Congress leader Captain Satish Sharma denied any role in "purchasing'" votes to save the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance [ Images ] government during the trust vote in Parliament in 2008, as alleged in a confidential cable sent by a United States diplomat.
According to a WikiLeaks cable published by the Hindu on Wednesday, just five days before the UPA government faced a trust vote in 2008 over the Indo-US nuclear deal, a political aide to Congress leader Satish Sharma showed a US embassy official "two chests containing cash".
"Sharma's political aide Nachiketa Kapur mentioned to an embassy staff member in an aside on July 16 that Ajit Singh's Rashtriya Lok Dal had been paid Rs 10 crore (about $2.5 million) for each of their four MPs to support the government. Kapur mentioned that money was not an issue at all, but the crucial thing was to ensure that those who took the money would vote for the government," US charge d'affaires Steven White wrote in his cable on July 17, 2008.
He added that 'Kapur showed the Embassy employee two chests containing cash and said that around Rs 50-60 crore (about $25 million) was lying around the house for use as pay-offs."
Sharma claimed that he didn't even know who Kapur was.
"I do not know what the Hindu is talking about. I have never known this person. There is no question of him being my political aide," he said.
When pointed out that Kapur has claimed that he often visited Sharma's residence, he shot back, "I am the leader of a national political party and I meet hundreds of people every day. That does not mean that I know each one of them."
Speaking on why he kept getting embroiled in controversies, Sharma said, "You should direct this question to those who find it convenient to plant my name in every case. My name figured even in the Jharkhand Mukti Morcha case (in 1996, Sharma was named in a CBI chargesheet for bribing JMM members of Parliament to vote against a no-confidence motion against the PV Narasimha Rao government). I had to fight a legal battle and eventually the Delhi [ Images ] high court acquitted me of the charges levelled against me."
According to Sharma's legal aide who fought his case in the JMM bribery scandal, the "entire project to name Sharma" was the brainchild of a chief minister of a neighbouring state, who he described as "scapegoat".