Home Minister P. Chidambaram on Wednesday told the Rajya Sabha that the Delhi Police would soon complete investigations into the cash-for-votes scam of 2008.
Rubbishing the BJP charge that he was trying to influence the probe as the Delhi Police comes under the Home Ministry, Mr. Chidambaram said allegations that the entire sting operation carried out by a news channel was engineered by a political party (read the BJP) would also be probed.
He was speaking during a discussion on Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's statement on the WikiLeaks exposé, carried by The Hindu, that bribes were given to MPs to vote for the Congress-led UPA-I government during a trust motion in July 2008.
Mr. Chidambaram said the probe would be thorough and taken to its logical conclusion. “Revelations have come that the sting operation by a television channel was not an independent journalistic exercise” but a “deliberate attempt in collaboration with a political party, which will also be probed.”
He said there was a new “turn of events” in the case as Siddhartha Gautam, a journalist who had been involved in the sting operation and who had since left the country, gave a statement on the issue. Without naming the BJP, Mr. Chidambaram said that according to allegations another political party was looking for buyers for its MPs for the so-called sting operation. “This was a deliberate attempt to destabilise a sitting government…the UPA government enjoys the total confidence of the people whatever sting operations, whatever engineered.”
Referring to the Parliamentary panel report on the issue, Mr. Chidambaram said it found no evidence against Ahmad Patel, political secretary to AICC chief Sonia Gandhi; and Samajwadi Party leader Reoti Raman Singh. The panel also found no conclusive proof of the allegations against the former SP general secretary, Amar Singh. As for the role of Sanjeev Saxena, an alleged aide of Mr. Amar Singh, the panel said it needed to be further investigated. And so was the role of Sudheendra Kulkarni, a former insider of the BJP, and Suhail Hindustani.
The Minister refuted Leader of the Opposition Arun Jaitley's charge that the UPA-I government had lost the confidence of the 14th Lok Sabha, that it was reduced to a minority and that the Congress was “converting a minority into a majority by dubious means.”
Mr. Chidambaram said: “Revelations and investigations show that we were always in a majority…the BJP was making a desperate attempt to convert the majority into a minority.