“Kulaste and Bhagora were only honest whistle-blowers”
Senior BJP leader L.K. Advani became emotional in the Lok Sabha on Thursday over the arrest of two former party MPs — Faggan Singh Kulaste and Mahabir Singh Bhagora — in the cash-for-vote case, and dared the government to put him also in jail.
Amid strong protests by Congress members, Mr. Advani, raising his hands, said if the duo was treated as criminals for “honestly” exposing how the government had tried to purchase votes, he too was ready to go to jail. He knew the facts as he was Leader of the Opposition then (at the time of the June 2008 trust vote sought by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh) and what was done (by the two MPs) was in keeping with constitutional norms. He would have stopped them from raising the issue (by showing wads of currency) in the Lok Sabha had it been wrong on their part.
Mr. Advani was speaking during zero hour, after unsuccessfully trying to raise the issue and forcing an adjournment earlier.
He said Mr. Kulaste and Mr. Bhagora were only “whistle-blowers” trying to expose in the Lok Sabha how the government had been trying to purchase the votes (of MPs in the trust motion moved by the Prime Minister on July 22, 2008 on the nuclear deal issue).
Before he completed his speech, Speaker Meira Kumar adjourned the House till 12.55 p.m. as the protests by the treasury benches reached their peak. Earlier, at one stage, Mr. Advani said if he was not allowed to speak, he might have to speak outside the House.
Later, MPs of the BJP and its allies staged a dharna near the Mahatma Gandhi statue in the Parliament complex, demanding the resignation of Dr. Singh for “running a corrupt government.” Among others, senior leaders Sushma Swaraj, Arun Jaitley, Rajnath Singh, Jaswant Singh and Sharad Yadav (Janata Dal-United) participated.
Talking to journalists, Ms. Swaraj alleged that the cash-for-vote case was the biggest scam of the present government. “While those who exposed this government by showing the currency notes are today behind bars, the person whose government was saved is still the Prime Minister.”
Earlier, the BJP's Ravi Shankar Prasad unsuccessfully tried to raise the issue in the Rajya Sabha, seeking suspension of question hour. However, Chairman Hamid Ansari refused permission, leading to slogan shouting by members of the BJP and allied parties and counter-shouting by Congress MPs. Consequently, the House was adjourned till 12.30 p.m.