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Cash-for-vote scam: BJP lists evidence
Sheela Bhatt in New Delhi
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July 23, 2008 23:42 IST

On Tuesday, three Bharatiya Janata Party MPs created history by smuggling in Rs 1 crore into the Lok Sabha.

When Ashok Argal (Morena), Fagan Singh Kulaste (Mandla) and Mahavir Bhagora (Salumber) got up from their seats and moved towards the Speaker's chair, they took out leather bags and stunned the nation by waving wads of Rs 1,000 notes.

The picture will remain etched in nation's memory but are the allegations by Argal that he was paid the money to abstain during the trust vote really true? Do they have any evidence that Samajwadi Party General Secretary Amar Singh [Images] tried to bribe him?

Whatever evidence was reportedly recorded through the television channel CNN-IBN's sting operation is not yet made public, but the BJP attacked the Congress and the SP by briefing media about their side of story.

BJP General Secretary Arun Jaitley on Wednesday gave the media evidence against Amar Singh

Excerpts of Jaitley's briefing:

"The first hard evidence in this case of bribing of our MP is that SP's leader Revti Raman Singh went to the house of Argal. The cameraman and reporter Siddhartha Gautam are the witnesses. Both belong to CNN-IBN. Argal's room is bugged and the whole conversation between Revti Singh and Argal is video-recorded where Singh mentions that 'aap abstain kijiye', so Argal asks him, " What will be the terms?" Singh says , "jo amount tay hona hai vo Amar Singh ji ke saath meeting main tay hoga'. (The amount will be fixed in a meeting with Amar Singh)."

"Next, we have statement of three MPs. Then there were security guards present at Argal's house. (They know Singh visited Argal's home.) The drivers of the cars that drove Singh to Argal's home can be made witness, too. After all, criminal law will apply here. There are many ways to investigate the bribing episode. Revti Singh fixes the appointment at 9.30/10 at Amar Singh's home. The driver who drove them to Amar Singh's home is a witness. The reporter and cameraman of CNN-IBN who followed them are witness again. There is a video recording of them going in and coming out of Amar Singh's home."

"Whatever Amar Singh and the BJP MPs discussed is available in their statement. BJP MPs said in their statement that Amar Singh told them that they (UPA) have got the numbers (majority in Parliament). But, still, he can pay Rs 3 crore as a "token" amount to each of them to abstain.  He said he would give some advance, too. He insisted that Argal should take along with him the advance money. But Argal told Amar Singh how could he take money out from his home when the media people are standing outside his house? So Amar Singh said that his man would deliver the advance money to his house.

"At that time, Amar Singh also arranged a telephonic talk with Congress' Ahmed Patel where Patel says "okay" to the arrangement. Then there is video evidence of all of them coming out of Amar Singh's home.

"Act three of the story is played again at Argal's home. Within 30 minutes of Argal reaching home, Sanjeev Saxena from Amar Singh's office arrives. Scores of journalists have seen him at Amar Singh's residence still Amar Singh now claims that he doesn't know him at all. Saxena comes with a bag full of money. He told Argal that Amar Singh has sent Rs 1 crore as advance money and remaining amount will be paid after the voting. Third BJP MP inquires about his advance; then Saxena dials Amar Singh and both talk about the money matter. This talk is recorded on hidden camera. The evidence of the calls can easily be found. If someone says that there is inadequate evidence of bribes to MPs, then they will have to rewrite the law of evidence."

"In short, you have an evidence of an offer, an evidence of a meeting, and, you have evidence of delivery of the amount. These evidences are conclusive for conviction of all the conspirators."

"The JMM bribery case judgment said in the case of bribing of JMM MPs the Prevention of Corruption Act is not applicable because it was the case of voting inside the Lok Sabha. I don't agree with the judgment and I think it should be reviewed. But, in this case the JMM judgment may not apply because it is the case of money paid outside the Lok Sabha to not enter it. I think, any Indian can file an RTI application and access the CD from the Speaker."

"The Congress can't get away from the blame because the agent (Samajwadi Party) was acting only for the benefit of the principal (Congress). The channel is not showing it, but they are not denying the existence of the tape. We know the truth and obviously, only truth is recorded on the tape."

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