The National Democratic Alliance (NDA) on Thursday demanded the resignation of Prime Minister Manomohan Singh, saying he lost the ‘moral authority and legitimacy' to lead the government after The Hindu exposé accessed through WikiLeaks on cash-for-votes in 2008.
Addressing a press conference here, NDA working chairman L.K. Advani maintained that the cable by a senior American diplomat to his government vindicated the position taken by the NDA that the government attempted to monetarily induce MPs to vote in favour of the confidence vote at the height of the crisis over the India-U.S. nuclear deal.
Flanked by leaders of the constituents of the NDA, Mr. Advani ruled out the possibility of the Opposition tabling a no-confidence motion against the Manmohan Singh government.
“Some of us may want an election, but all MPs may not be in favour of it. Total Opposition may not be in its favour,” the former Deputy Prime Minister said in response to a question why the NDA did not go for a no-trust vote against the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government in the Lok Sabha.
He said Dr. Singh should come before Parliament and announce his resignation owning responsibility. The main argument of Mr. Advani was that the cable published by The Hindu corroborated the position taken by the NDA that the vote of confidence in favour of the UPA-I was influenced by bribery.
‘Credibility of The Hindu is high'
The senior BJP leader complimented The Hindu on publishing the cable. Asked about the authenticity of the cable, Mr. Advani said: “Credibility of The Hindu is high and the paper found it worth publishing it.”
He said that in the wake of the recent scams that dogged the government, the NDA did not demand the resignation of the Prime Minister. But after the latest exposé, the Opposition would have failed in its duty had it not asserted that Dr. Singh has lost all “moral authority.”
Dubbing the exposé the “biggest scandal” in the post-independent history, Mr. Advani said that any person proud of the Indian democratic system should feel ashamed of it.
“I have not seen in my political life a government as corrupt as the current one. Right from the top in the government establishment and the party all are involved,” he said.
A senior leader of the NDA argued that the latest exposé was to be seen against the backdrop of a set of allegations made on the eve of the crucial 2008 confidence vote. “Individuals claiming to be representing the government not only approached MPs with money but got them to speak to the interlocutors. The targeted MPs produced the cash in the Lok Sabha. What other evidence is needed?” he asked.
He maintained that the parliamentary committee set up to probe the allegations served no purpose as it was dominated by members of the ruling combine and even its recommendations for a further investigation in the matter was not followed.
A statement by the NDA noted that the cable published in The Hindu was a statement sent by an American diplomat to his government.
“It is contemporaneous in so far as it relates to the year 2008. He was the political counsellor in the American Embassy. The Americans were interested in the vote of confidence. One of the offenders was lavishly and liberally working in foreign cell of the Congress.
“The arrogant Congress displayed the rogue war chests to the American diplomat. He certainly could not have concocted these facts in relation to a friendly party in India. The likes of Sant Chatwal were inducted in order to induce the Akali Dal.”
The statement maintained that the Finance Minister's defence in the Rajya Sabha that diplomatic immunity prevented the government from investigating the cable was of no avail.
“The diplomatic immunity extends to protecting the secrecy of the cable. That cable has already been released to the public. The diplomatic immunity does not extend to protecting an Indian offender, who has committed an act of bribery in India. Shri Pranab Mukherjee's further defence that the offence vanished with the dissolution of the 14th Lok Sabha is incredible since the offence of bribery, committed in 2008, outside Parliament does not vanish because the 14th Lok Sabha has ceased to exist,” it noted.
The statement said the disclosure added to the campaign of the NDA against corruption and “these allegations of corruption shall continue to haunt this government till it continues.”