New Delhi: US hotelier Sant Chatwal today denied allegations made by Wikileaks. Chatwal said he did not contact any political party in India for the trust vote in 2008.
Chatwal added that he was only interested in building Indo-US relations. He said he lobbied with Republicans and Democrats in the United States for the nuclear deal.
The ‘cash-for-votes’ controversy dating back to a no-trust vote against UPA-1 in July 2008 has returned to haunt UPA-2, with fresh WikiLeaks logs suggesting a staffer at the American embassy in the capital was shown cash meant to bribe MPs.
The cables quoted an aide of Congress MP and Gandhi family loyalist Satish Sharma who reportedly showed cash contained in chests at the MP’s residence to an embassy staffer on July 16, 2008. Sharma separately claimed, according to the cables, that efforts were made to influence the Shiromani Akali Dal through US-based businessman Sant Singh Chatwal while Rahul Gandhi was working on the National Conference through Omar Abdullah. The MP even said he was trying to create a divide in BJP through former PM Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s son-in-law Ranjan Bhattacharya.
The reports came as much-needed succour to a Left struggling ahead of assembly elections in Kerala and West Bengal and CPM was quick to claim that its charge that Congress-led UPA worked to serve US interests was well-founded. BJP said its belief that UPA-1 won the 2008 vote through bribes had been substantiated.