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Speaker orders inquiry into cash-for-vote scam

July 26, 2008 20:28 IST

A seven-member committee of Lok Sabha MPs was constituted on Saturday to go into allegations of bribery levelled by three BJP MPs for securing their support in the confidence vote.

The committee to be headed by senior Congress member V Kishore Chandra Deo was set up by Speaker Somnath Chatterjee [Images] who was petitioned on Friday by the three BJP MPs -- Ashok Argal, Fagan Singh Kulaste and Mahesh Bhagora -- seeking an inquiry into their charge.

In their petition seeking an inquiry into the charge that attempt was made to bribe them to get their support in the trust vote on July 22, the three MPs were believed to have named Samajwadi Party General Secretary Amar Singh [Images] and Congress President's political secretary Ahmed Patel. Both had denied the charge.

Other members of the committee are: V K Malhotra (BJP), Mohd Saleem (CPI-M), Ram Gopal Yadav (SP), Devendra Prasad Yadav (RJD), Rajesh Verma (BSP) and C Kuppusamy (DMK).

The committee has been asked to give its report on August 11, when the House will commence its Monsoon Session, Lok Sabha Secretary General P D T Achary said.

On July 22, the three BJP MPs shocked the Lok Sabha when they opened a leather bag and flashed bundles of currency notes claiming that they were given Rs 1 crore as advance in return for their support.

A Lok Sabha Secretariat said the inquiry committee has been authorised to follow its own procedure while going into the alleged offer of money to the three BJP MPs in connection  with the voting on the confidence motion.

Deo told PTI that he would convene the first meeting as soon as possible to decide on the modus operandi of the probe.

Malhotra, who is the Deputy Leader of the BJP in the Lok Sabha, said that the party and NDA would decide on the issue of participation in the committee.

Mounting pressure on the government on the issue, BJP leader L K Advani [Images] had even hinted at en masse resignation of the entire opposition in Parliament like that had happened on the Bofors issue in 1989 to register its protest over the "tainted" victory in the trust vote.

Advani had described the alleged "cash-for-votes scandal" as "even more shocking" than Bofors and had warned the government that it would not be easy for to continue smoothly in the wake of the controversy.

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