M Reyaz, BeyondHeadlines
New Delhi: The government is clearly on the back foot in both the houses on cash-for-votes scam as a united opposition slammed it.
Sushma Swaraj, leader of opposition in the lower house, hold the prime minister responsible who was the “biggest beneficiary” even if he was not aware.
“It is the habit of the prime minister to blame others. If it is price rise, the then Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar is responsible; if it is 2G, the then Telecom Minister A. Raja is responsible; and if it is the Commonwealth Games, (Suresh) Kalmadi is to blame,” she said, adding that people have had enough of such excuses of “coalition compulsions” or that he is unaware.
Arun Jaitley, leader of opposition in the upper house, also came heavily on the prime minister. However, he became defensive when Jaynati Natrajan interrupted about the latest Tehelka expose that writes: “Disturbingly, this sting operation appears to have had the sanction and collusion of respected BJP leaders like Sudheendra Kulkarni, Arun Jaitley and even LK Advani.”
Jaitlye blamed the “Congress friendly investigators” and said that the act itself needs to be looked into and not that some BJP leaders informed the media or their leaders.
CPI leader Gurudas Dasgupta, who initiated the discussion in the Lok Sabha, blamed Dr Manmohan Singh of “parliamentary piracy” for the Trust Vote in 2008.
Both Dasgupta (in the Lok Sabha) and Arun jaitley (in the Rajya Sabha) accused the PM of misleading the house on the report of committee, which had clearly suggested some corroboration, requesting “investigation by an appropriate agency.”
“Strong is the language of the weak and persuasive is the language of the strong,” the CPI leader said.
The prime minister had earlier blamed the opposition for relying on “unverified communication.”
Home Minister P Chidmabaram defended the government reading excerpts from the report and conducting that “this committee did not come to a definitive conclusion on the case of bribery giving or bribery taking.”
However, Jaitley interrupted Chidmabaram from reading out the report by saying, “Amar Singh indeed appears to be the principal player in the entire cash for votes episode.”
Amar Singh defended himself by saying that he did not speak to the person accused of buying votes (Nachiketa Kapoor) during the period.
The home minister also accused the opposition for distorting the prime minister’s remark on enjoying people’s confidence and said that “the cash for vote sting operation is not an independent journalistic exercise” and that there was a deliberate attempt to destabilize the government.
Kapil Sibal too made the same point in the lower house quoting Julian Assange from a recent interview, “the cables are authentic.. The content, of course, varies on a cable by cable basis.”
In an interview with NDTV, Assange has added: “It is wrong to suggest that these are just opinions, these are official reports made by US Ambassadors, sometime it is opinion…sometimes not. It is done in a serious capacity.”
Arun Jaitley accused him of cover ups and “relying on newspapers.”
Sitaram Yechury of Communist Party of India(Marxist) (CPI-M) suspected that “majority was crucial” not only to save the government but for continuing the same policy with the United States and that the foreign government was so interested in what was happening here.
All the while listening patiently, Dr Singh once stood up to say that he was only asked if he was involved and so he had made a stand on that. He later reiterated that the “veracity” of cables cannot be established reciting Urdu couplet, “Mana ki tere deed ke qaabil nahin hoon main//Tu mera shauq dekh, mera intezar dekh.”
A rather aggressive prime minister said that he is used to such vitriol from the time of the finance minister and laughed that LK Advani considered “prime minstership his birthright.”