Amar Singh, Ahmad Patel get clean chit in Cash for Votes scandal

Written by Political Bureau | New Delhi | Updated: Dec 17 2008, 04:33am hrs
Samajwadi party MP Amar Singh and Congress MP Ahmad Patel on Monday were given a clean chit by a Lok Sabha Committee that went into the alleged 'Cash for Votes' scam during the confidence vote in July and said no further action be taken against them.

As there is no case against Patel and no clinching evidence against Amar Singh, there is no occasion for the Committee or the House to make a request to Rajya Sabha requiring them to appear before the inquiry committee for evidence, the Committee said in its 466-page report.

The Committee, however, recommended that a probe by an appropriate investigating agency be done into the roles of Sanjeev Saxena, said to be an aide of Singh, Suhail Hindustani and Sudheendra Kulkarni, an aide of BJP leader L K Advani.

Two opposition MPs, V K Malhotra of BJP and Mohd Saleem of CPI(M), gave notes of dissent on the dissociating themselves from the clean chit given to Singh and Patel. The 7-member Committee was constituted by Speaker Somnath Chatterjee after three BJP MPs Ashok Argal, Mahavir Bhagora and Faggan Singh Kulaste shocked the House by bringing a huge bag and displaying bundles of currency taken out from them.

They alleged that Singh and Patel had offered them bribes amounting to Rs 3 crore each for abstaining from voting in support of the government during the trust vote. The two had denied the charge in the media.

Noting that Kulkarni, had on his own admission, had masterminded the whistle-blowing operation, the Committee held that as facts reveal, he facilitated in the giving of bribes to members.

The justification put forth by him (Kulkarni) for conceptualising the operation have been found to be unconvinc ing, the Committee said adding that Hindustani, a volunteer in the operation, does not appear to be above board.

In his dissenting note, Malhotra said If investigation by any specialised investigating agency against Shri Sanjeev Saxena, as is recommended in the Report, establishes that he came with the money on behalf of Shri Amar Singh, it would contradict the exoneration of Shri Amar Singh even before the investigation into Shri Sanjeev Saxena is concluded.

He also asked why the convention dealing with the appearance of an MP of one House before the Inquiry Committee of the other House of Parliament it should not not be revised, especially when the very credibility of Parliament was facing danger due to the July 22 scam. Saleem, in his note, said it will be improper to limit the scope for further investigation and exclude some important names from the ambit of investigating by an appropriate agency.

The Committee should not not pass any judgement on this matter and must recommend that the entire matter be probed, he said. He also wanted that the Committee should recommend to the Speaker that the cases of Singh and Patel should be referred to Rajya Sabha Chairman.