India

It is Not Possible for Govt to Confirm or Deny WikiLeaks Disclosures: Finance Minister

BeyondHeadlines Special Correspondent

New Delhi: Defending the Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh on the latest WikiLeaks disclosures that indicated that the Congress party had paid lawmakers to survive a vote of confidence in 2008, Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee today said that it is not possible for the government to either confirm or deny the contents of the cables.

“I cannot either confirm this or deny the WikiLeaks revelation. The government elected is accountable to the 15th Lok Sabha and not to the 14th Lok Sabha,” said Mukherjee.

However, Leader of Opposition in the Rajya Sabha (upper house) Arun Jaitley pointed his finger at Mukherjee and said, “You are guilty of a cover-up.”

“Outside the house an offence of bribery is not accepted. If what has appeared is correct, it is a commission of an offence in India. Diplomatic immunity may be available to US diplomats but the same immunity can’t be used by Indians in India. Where is the question of the finance minister claiming that immunity?” said Jaitley.

“If he satisfies what appeared in the newspaper is an admissible evidence in any court of the law, I will be satisfied. ‘That what appeared is an admissible evidence in any court of law in India as per the laws’, This is the submission I want him to make,” an agitated Mukherjee said while trading charges with Jaitley.

Earlier, as soon as Rajya Sabha met, Jaitley said: “It is conclusively clear that this government survived on the basis of a political sin.”

“The government which survived on the strength of such a political or moral sin has no authority. We demand that this government must resign immediately,” he added.

“This (the cable) is a humongous indictment of the way the government has functioned,” said CPM leader Sitaram Yechury.

He referred to the “gross degeneration of political morality” and said the government had shown “political opportunism.”

The issue was raised in the Lok Sabha, too, with Leader of Opposition Sushma Swaraj saying that the WikiLeaks “report has brought shame to the nation”.

“There is no bigger shamelessness than this…that people were showing war chests to outsiders,” she said, adding that the government has lost the moral authority to be in power.

CPI leader Gurudas Dasgupta called the revelations a murder of democracy.

“It’s a murder of democracy if money was paid to members to win the vote of confidence. We would like to know whether the control room of India is in Delhi or Washington. We demand the Prime Minister to come to the House and make a statement and deny this. If he does not deny, he should immediately resign,” he said.

Earlier, a set of India-related diplomatic cables on the Indo-US nuclear deal released by the WikiLeaks, claims that an aide of Congress leader Satish Sharma had told a US diplomat that the party had paid crores to several lawmakers to ensure that they voted for the deal in Parliament.

In a cable dated July 17, 2008 sent to the US State Department, Charge d’Affaires Steven White wrote about a conversation that the embassy’s political counsellor had with Rajya Sabha MP Satish Sharma.

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