Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Wednesday reiterated that no one from the Congress or the government had indulged in any unlawful act as alleged in a U.S. Embassy cable published in The Hindu on March 17.
“I would like to make it clear once again that none from the Congress party or the government indulged in any such unlawful act during the trust vote in 2008. We have not been involved in any such transaction and we have not authorised any one to indulge in such transactions,” he said in both Houses of Parliament, while replying to a short-duration discussion on the WikiLeaks report.
Refusing to entertain the cable's charge of a Congress politician showing two chests of bribe money to a U.S. Embassy staffer, Dr. Singh devoted a substantive portion of his reply to an attack on the Opposition benches, particularly the BJP.
Targeting senior BJP leader L.K. Advani, he said: “Advaniji believes that becoming the Prime Minister was his birthright and therefore, he has never forgiven me...All I can say to Advaniji is that people of India have voted us to power in free and fair elections. Please wait for another three-and-a-half years.”
This was not the first time in his parliamentary career that he was facing an Opposition onslaught of this type. “I have had to go through that as Finance Minister and as the Prime Minister. The main Opposition party, right from 2004, adopted the attitude that we are a usurper.”
On the WikiLeaks cables, he said it was not possible for the government to confirm the veracity or the contents of such communication. “If they exist, they would be communications from U.S. diplomats stationed in Delhi to their government in Washington. It is not open to us to enquire from either of the two regarding the communications they exchanged among themselves.” Many persons referred to in those communications had strongly denied their veracity, he said.
On the report of the V. Kishore Chandra Deo committee, set up by the 14th Lok Sabha to go into the allegations of some BJP MPs that they were offered money to cross-vote in the confidence motion, Dr. Singh said the Committee had concluded that there was insufficient evidence to conclude “bribery” had taken place. “I am convinced that taking the report as a whole, this is a correct inference.” The Opposition had earlier accused him of distorting the contents of the report.
To buttress his argument, Dr. Singh read out the statement of then Speaker Somnath Chatterjee, who, while introducing the Committee's report in the House on December 16, 2008, had said: “…material on record does not conclusively prove that the money contained in the bag, which was eventually displayed in the House, was actually sent by the persons who were alleged to have sent it for the purpose of winning over Shri Ashok Argal, Shri Faggan Singh Kulaste and Shri Mahavir Bhagora to vote in favour of the Motion of Confidence. The Committee have, however, found the evidence given before the Committee by three persons involved in this episode as unconvincing, and the Committee have suggested that their role in the matter needs to be investigated by investigating agencies.”
Later the matter pertaining to the three MPs was referred to the Union Home Ministry for appropriate action. Subsequently it was sent to Delhi police for a probe which was on the job now.
The Prime Minister said he wanted to leave it to the good sense of the House to decide for itself whether the report of the Committee in any way substantiates the wild allegations levelled by some Opposition members against the government.