The Congress sought to distance itself from the arrest of the former Samajwadi Party leader, Amar Singh, in the cash-for-votes scam of 2008, even as the Bharatiya Janata Party — whose “whistleblower MPs” were also arrested in the case — sought a thorough investigation into the ruling party's role in the episode as it was the “real beneficiary” of the trust vote.
Congress spokesperson Abhishek Singhvi told journalists that those who took “a salacious interest” in such matters and allege political motives forgot that the arrest came at the conclusion of a Supreme Court-monitored investigation and the filing of a charge sheet by the CBI thereafter.
“The Congress,” he said, “believes in the due process of law. Such statements are coming from those who have no faith or trust in the legal process.”
Pressed on the possibility of the investigations even “leading to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's door,” Mr. Singhvi said it was impossible “except in the most fertile and febrile imaginations.”
Meanwhile, Parliamentary Affairs Minister Pawan Kumar Bansal, rejecting the allegations that the United Progressive Alliance government was the beneficiary of the “cash-for-votes” scam, said it did not need the votes of the three BJP MPs, who claimed they were bribed.
“The Congress government did not need any votes. You can check the records and see by how many votes we won,” he stressed. Criticising the BJP for not allowing Parliament to function, as it was the forum in which such issues should be discussed, he said there was no need for the Prime Minister to make a statement on the issue.
But even as the Congress publicly put on a brave face, privately some party MPs admitted that the investigations into the scam was embarrassing for the party — and did not rule out the possibility of Mr. Amar Singh even naming some people in the party with whom he may have been in touch.
These sources, however, stressed that “there was no official connection with our party. It is, however, entirely possible that Mr. Amar Singh did try to bribe some people and did not succeed.”
However, the Congress appeared to be confident that — apart from the embarrassment of facing accusations from the Opposition that no action was initiated against the beneficiaries of the scam — it might be legally difficult to prove anything against Mr. Amar Singh.