India

We Are the Heroes, Says Cash-for-Vote BJP MP

Ashutosh Bhardwaj

New Delhi: Almost two years after their dramatic moment in Parliament, when they waved wads of cash alleging an attempt to buy them on the eve of the trust vote on July 22, 2008, BJP MP Ashok Argal and former MPs Faggan Singh Kulaste and Mahavir Bhagora are back in the spotlight. So is Sohail Hindustani, the BJP worker and middleman who allegedly brokered the deal.

While they may not be able to explain why they opposed the India-US nuclear deal — on which the UPA government faced the trust vote — they are basking in the attention following the recent WikiLeaks disclosures.

“The party said humare kuch log nalayak nikle, kuch nayak nikle. We are the heroes,” says Argal, 42, surrounded by some supporters at his residence.

They claim to have set out to “save Indian democracy from the evil grip of the US and Israel”.

“I am from Rajasthan. Amar Singh did not know my idol is Maharana Pratap, not the traitor Man Singh. As I came to know that Manmohanji and Soniaji are trying to sell the country to the US and garnering the support of MPs, I decided to expose them,” says Hindustani, 32, who claims to exercise clout over “100 MPs across party lines”, making him an “easy choice for horse-dealers”.

Claiming that he faced threats to life after the expose, Hindustani, who owns a gemstones business in Delhi, says: “Marne se nahi darte hum Hindwale, patthar se na maren humein nazuk badan wale (We the people of Hindustan are not scared of death. The weak dare not pelt us with stones).”

There is another self-anointed hero — Hashmat Ali, the driver who claims to have ferried Argal and Kulaste in his Maruti Zen to Amar Singh’s residence on the morning of July 22. “Please note the number — DL 5S -7218. We have all the records,” says Ali, who has since crossed over to the BJP to join the “revolutionary cause with brother Hindustani”.

“Amar Singh got me kidnapped on September 25. He made me write three letters on gunpoint. I somehow managed to escape. I am ready for a narco test for the cause,” says Ali.

While Argal claims that Hindustani introduced Samajwadi Party leader Reoti Raman Singh to them, Bhagora says that he met Hindustani and Sanjeev Saxena (Amar Singh’s aide who reportedly gave Rs 1 crore to the MPs) only before the trust vote.

Speaking to The Indian Express on the phone from Udaipur, he said: “They were around 25-30 years old and looked like middlemen. They must have made money out of this.”

“We were poor, belonged to SC/ST quota, therefore they tried to lure us,” says Bhagora. “I may not be a rich man, but I get three pensions — as a former employee of the Rajasthan government, MLA and MP. That is enough to sustain me.”

Curtsey: The Indian Express

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