Photographs: A Ganesh Nadar/Rediff.com
Sudheendra Kulkarni has never for a moment regretted his role in the sting operation ahead of the United Progressive Alliance's crucial July 2008 trust vote that shook the entire nation.
Kulkarni, a close aide of Bharatiya Janata Party veteran LK Advani, was accused by the Delhi Police of masterminding the operation that saw three BJP MPs being paid Rs 1 crore -- an advance for a Rs 9 crore deal -- ahead of the trust vote.
The MPs walked into Parliament, brandishing wads of currency notes, allegedly handed over to them by middlemen acting on behalf of then Samajwadi Party leader Amar Singh.
Kulkarni defended his act, stating that he wanted to expose the UPA government's willingness to buy votes to stay on in power.
Having been released on bail in the case, Kulkarni is looking to start afresh.
Kulkarni interacted with our readers during a Live Chat on Wednesday morning. Please click NEXT to read the full chat transcript...
'It has been established that cash-for-vote was a clear case of bribe giving'
Sudhendra Kulkarni says, Hello. It's wonderful to participate in the Rediff chat. I am ready to take your questions and answer them as honestly as I can.
HariKrishna asked, Mr Kulakarni, i have followed the cash for votes scam closely. I appreciate your intentions. I understand political manuvoring of political class. However, i fail to understand how and why Rajdeep Sardesai escapes the blame of violating Journalistic ethics and still enjoys the credibility, when it was very clear that UPA-1 could survive only with this connivance?
Sudhendra Kulkarni answers, Thank you for following this scam closely from Day One. I agree with you that, had the news channel telecast the tapes before the vote on 22 July 2008, it would have had a devastating impact on the govt.
The conduct of the channel raises grave questions about journalistic ethics. Anyway, after the passage of over three years, at least half the truth has come out with the Delhi High Court's categorical order.
Jashkar asked, The moment money bundles were flanked in the house I thought something will seriously happen, including fall of govt. But, somehow govt. resisted the worst of embarrassment. In this context what do you feel was the loophole in your whistle?
Sudhendra Kulkarni answers, Our whistle blowing operation was a partial success at the time. Although the government survived, there was a strong needle of suspicion that the government had indulged in large-scale horse-trading. Every effort was made to suppress and derail the investigation.
But now it is established beyond a shadow of doubt that it was a case of bribe-giving in order to purchase the support of non-UPA MPs. Satyameva Jayate!!!
'Advaniji was absolved in the hawala case'
anoop asked, who from the congress involved in this scam..Is it amar singh acted on behalf of congress?
Sudhendra Kulkarni answers, We must remember that the Samajwadi Party did not have a government at the Centre. It wasn't even a part of the UPA government. If one of its leaders was caught in the act of bribe-giving, obviously he was acting on behalf of those who had a vital stake in the survival of the UPA - I government. It is now for the investigative agencies to reveal the full truth. But will they, can they, act against their own political bosses?
No Cash asked, What are your comments on OPERATION LOTUS conducted by BJP in Karnataka after BSY came to power
Sudhendra Kulkarni answers, Operation Lotus in Karnataka was wrong. It is indefensible.
Sridhar asked, Advani was himself involved in hawala scam, you are his close associate...who is going to believe you?
Sudhendra Kulkarni answers, Dear Sridhar, please remember that Shri Advaniji was absolved by the Delhi High Court in 1997 of all the charges levelled against him in the hawala case.
Ramkumar asked, What is your achievement?
Sudhendra Kulkarni answers, There is no personal achievement for me. I just did what I regarded was right -- namely, to expose, along with other colleagues, expose this worst case of corruption in the history of Indian Parliament.
We have succeeded in our effort. If there is any achievement, it belongs to all those deeply committed to the sanctity of democracy in India, who showed their support and solidarity to us, especially when we were in Tihar Jail.
Chetan asked, my question to mr Kulkarni is that the BJP is corruption free party ? Mr Kulkarni give the answer on his answer we have question again
Sudhendra Kulkarni answers, I do not claim that the BJP is a corruption-free party. Unfortunately, the taint of corruption can be seen even in some BJP governments. However, many in the top and middle levels of leadership in the BJP are honest and incorruptible.
'Chargesheet states money was paid by Amar Singh for horse-trading'
gk asked, Hi Sudheendra ji... Kudos for your efforts.. it doesn't matter whether Govt is exposed.. You have fought like a brave person along with other BJP whistleblower MPs. If you want to quit BJP do so when they are in power.. otherwise an impression will be created that u were with bjp till they were in power.. Kudos again for fighting like Maharana and Shivaji!!!
Sudhendra Kulkarni answers, Thank you for your words of appreciation. I accept them with humility. But let me tell you that my colleagues -- Faggan Singh Kulaste and Mahavir Bhagora, both former BJP MPs, and Sohail Hindustani -- spent more days in jail than I did. They too deserve kudos.
sunil03111984 asked, how do u feel in tihar jail?
Sudhendra Kulkarni answers, I felt absolutely at peace with myself. One's conscience is restless if one has committed a wrong. Since I hadn't done anything wrong, I experienced inner serenity. I also used my 52 days in Tihar to study the shocking realities about the Criminal Justice System in India.
No Cash asked, There is an element of doubt -- whether the MPs were really bribed or was it stage managed to embarrass the govt. We should see that even Amar Singh didn't figured out in the tape anywhere.
Sudhendra Kulkarni answers, Please go through the chargesheet filed by the Delhi Police. The chargesheet itself states categorically that the money was paid by the Samajwadi Party leader for horse-trading. Even the Delhi High Court has said that, prima facie, there is no evidence that the 3 BJP MPs took bribes.
Rather, the high court has said that their intention was to expose corruption and horse-trading. After this, only prejudiced persons will continue to think that this was stage-managed by the BJP.
munna asked, Respected Mr Sudhindra, The entire nation doesnt want congress. The prime opposition doesnt want congress..This feeling is there since the last 6 years but still why nothing is being done to topple them?
Sudhendra Kulkarni answers, It is not for the opposition to topple the government. In democracy, the people must, and people alone can, do that job.
'Many in Congress are not speaking their minds out'
Ganesh asked, Kulkarniji aapne jo kiya voh bahut badiya kiya, lekin thik tarike kiya nahi, Nahi to Congress ki vaat lagti.
Sudhendra Kulkarni answers, Thank you for pointing out the shortcomings in our effort.
shekhar asked, Mr Kulkarni, Do you feel that the real culprits of the scam will be exposed?
Sudhendra Kulkarni answers, Only if the judiciary and people's voice exert adequate and effective pressure on the government to let the investigative agencies to do a fair and independent job.
Ahmad asked, Mr Kulkarni, It was for the civil nuclear deal for which the whole issue was raked up as the LEFT decided to pull out from UPA. Don't you think you (BJP) should have supported the deal and at least supported the Govt till the time the deal was passed. Don't you think before POWER and PM chair, the development of India comes first. You(BJP) should have forgotten the opposition line for some time and should have favoured UPA in passing the deal. Had this been done, the whole of India would have unanimously given you a mandate in 2009 general elections.
Sudhendra Kulkarni answers, It's a good point to ponder over.
alekh asked, Sir despite you people bring the truth infront of people than also why you are in jail.
Sudhendra Kulkarni answers, This is something that the people of India should seriously think about. I am saying this not because I was sent to jail. Such things can happen to other innocent persons. We must therefore reform our justice delivery system. The image of India as a law-government state is at stake.
Amith asked, What is ur take on mining scam in Karnataka?
Sudhendra Kulkarni answers, The guilty must be punished. There can be no defence for such scams.
SRIKANTHM asked, Mr. Kulkarni, I am one of your sincere follower based on issues you take up. In one of the interviews just before the last general election, you mentioned Congress & BJP should join together to save India. How can this happen when on one side the Congress looting the country and the other side the BJP who try to save the country..? Do you mean to say this is right way?
Sudhendra Kulkarni answers, I continue to believe that there are many honest and well-meaning people in the Congress. But they are not speaking their minds out. It is time they pondered over the performance of the UPA government. About BJP-Congress cooperation on vital national issues, my stand remains unchanged. Such cooperation is necessary in the national interest.
SEHWAG asked, WHY ARE OLD PEOPLE LIKE YOU STILL IN POLITICS? WHY DONT YOU RETIRE AND LET YOUNGER PARTY WORKERS COME TO THE FORE..ADVANI HAS 1 FOOT IN THE GRAVE ALREADY
Sudhendra Kulkarni answers, Healthy and value-based politics requires the energy of the youth and the experience of seniors.
'Jan Lokpal Bill alone can't stop recurrence of scams'
ramakrishna asked, sir, party favor you lot, why? is there any personal or hidden reason for this? because many deserving youths and leaders are neglected in BJP as on date.
Sudhendra Kulkarni answers, I agree that deserving people must not be neglected in the BJP, or for that matter in any other party. We must move away from the culture of cronyism and favouritism.
HariKrishna asked, Mr. Kulakarni, i'm happy to see you out on bail, after going through long unjust custody. Apart from granting bail, what other aspect of Delhi High court order that strengthens your case?
Sudhendra Kulkarni answers, Although the Hon'ble Delhi High Court has pronounced its order only on our bail applications, the content of the order is such that it completely demolishes the case of the prosecution.
dada asked, so when is his highness esteemed Kulkarni going to reveal the truth which he has been threatening all along
Sudhendra Kulkarni answers, It is not for me to reveal the full truth. It is the job of the investigative agencies, whose evidence is then examined by the judiciary. We as whistleblowers have done our job.
SudheendraKulkarni asked, Advani ji took only 15 lakhs in hawala which is not a big amount compared to taken by A Raja. So Advaniji is comparatively very honest
Sudhendra Kulkarni answers, I have answered this question already. Please know that the Delhi High Court absolved Advaniji in this politically motivated case.
Jashkar asked, I felt the speaker behaved partisan.. your comment on the speaker please.
Sudhendra Kulkarni answers, I wouldn't like to comment on the role of the former Speaker of the Lok Sabha. Let people judge for themselves.
Piyush asked, The way CBI and Judiciary is proceeding, Do you still believe in Judiciary? Also why amar singh and you all are not telling the truth to the people.I want to tell you something that Truth or Good work will remain Truth although it is not followed by any one and a Lie or Evil work will be bad although it is followed by all.
Sudhendra Kulkarni answers, I believe in the judiciary. And my faith has been vindicated by the recent order of the Delhi High Court in the cash for votes case. Of course, I also believe in the Almighty, who is always just and unfailingly upholds the Truth.
sunnabc asked, Hello Sir, I want to know, Are you in favor with Jan Lokhpal as it can be one weapon to stop Cash for Votes Scam ?
Sudhendra Kulkarni answers, Although I support many features of the Jan Lok Pal bill, I do not think it alone can prevent recurrence of such scams.
Ramkumar asked, You were Communist how come become Swyamsewak?
Sudhendra Kulkarni answers, Let us try to see positive things in all the ideological movements and organisations. Prejudice against one or the other will do no good.
chor asked, Hello Sir why paisa-paisa tamasha you making in parliment destroying image of parliament
Sudhendra Kulkarni answers, Who destroyed the image of Parliament? Those who gave bribes and indulged in horse-trading or those who sought to expose this scandal at great risk to themselves? Please get your perspective right.
'I was never with the Trinamool Congress'
saffron asked, Mr Sudheendra, it was always possible that Congress will find some way out of the tight situation during vote of confidence in 2008. Why was the planning from BJP not foolproof that ensured Congress could escape and BJP MPs seeing Tihar jail instead? Why was the planning not done in a better way in order to expose the Congress in a completely foolproof manner?
Sudhendra Kulkarni answers, I agree that there were some shortcomings in our planning and execution of the whistle-blowing operation.
Shivkumar asked, I believe CONGRESS name is insult to my country. WE SHOULD ABOLISH THIS NAME ITSELF. Gandhiji was perhaps right, who said, after independence, CONGRESS should be CLOSED.
Sudhendra Kulkarni answers, Today's Congress is not the Congress that Gandhiji led. It is a Congress that is led by the Gandhis. There is a big difference.
sridharkrish asked, Hello Mr Kulkarni.. Will you come to B'lore and ur hometown Belgaum??... the educated in a city like B'lore would really like to hear you out.
Sudhendra Kulkarni answers, Thank you for the invitation. It'll be my pleasure to interact with people, especially the youth. At the same time, I urge you to create mass awareness at your own level. All such efforts are meaningful and necessary.
raja123 asked, Do you feel misguided by your senior political party friends?
Sudhendra Kulkarni answers, Not in the least. On the contrary, all the senior leaders of the BJP stood like a rock in support of us when we were in jail. Their support continues. After all, this was a fight between Truth and Cover-up. I have never for a moment felt that I was misguided.
bzs asked, is bjp alternate to congress? i mean is it any better?
Sudhendra Kulkarni answers, The BJP must strive harder to make people believe that it is a better alternative.
opg asked, what is your next course of action towards BJP and against Congress party.
Sudhendra Kulkarni answers, I shall decide about my next course, vis-a-vis my role in active politics, in the days to come.
ranjit asked, Sir, kya aap ko nahi lagta ki BJP ne hi aap ko fasaya hai?
Sudhendra Kulkarni answers, Bilkul nahi ji. Ek kshan bhi main ne nahi socha ki muzhe BJP ne fasaya. BJP ne sahi kiya, aur bhrashtachar ko expose karne mein mujzhe ek mauka mila.
Kaps asked, Sir, What is your main regret in this whole exercise, What extra precautions & safeguards you could have taken to make it fool proof??
Sudhendra Kulkarni answers, The media partner in any such whistle-blowing operation should have honesty and integrity.
arunkumarms asked, At present for which party do you belong? TMC? BJP? BSP?
Sudhendra Kulkarni answers, I am not with any political party at present. I would also like to clarify that I was never with the Trinamool Congress. Some people have misconception on this score.
Amith asked, Why did u change ur ideology so suddenly in life? From left to right? Are u confused like all average Indians?
Sudhendra Kulkarni answers, Do not be afraid of changing your views and beliefs if life teaches you to do so. This is not a sign of confusion. We must be open in our thinking and never be slaves of dogma. In my case, I still subscribe to many good ideas and ideals in Communism, even after I became aware of the flaws in its overall ideology and practice.
Thadani asked, How were you treated in jail
Sudhendra Kulkarni answers, I was treated very well in the jail. No complaints on that score.
Sudhendra Kulkarni says, Thank you friends. I am told the time is up. I enjoyed the chat. sorry if I couldn't answer all the questions. I hope it was meaningful for you. Dhanyavaad.