Under attack from the Opposition on allegations of bribery during the July 2008 trust vote, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Friday rejected the charge, which he said was based on “speculative, unverified and unverifiable'' communication, and told Parliament that no one from the government or the Congress indulged in any unlawful act during that time.
Referring to the issue raised in Parliament on Thursday following a report in The Hindu on a secret U.S. Embassy cable accessed through the WikiLeaks, Dr. Singh said the government “cannot confirm the veracity, contents or even the existence of such communication.”
With the rules of procedure coming in the way, an unconvinced Opposition was unable to ask him questions or debate the matter further.
Earlier in the day, the Prime Minister told the India Today Summit that he himself had not authorised anyone to purchase votes nor had he been involved in any such dealings. “I have no knowledge of any such purchases and I am absolutely categorical, I have not authorised anyone to purchase any votes. I am not aware of any acts of purchase of votes,…I am absolutely certain in asserting that I am not at all, I think, involved in any of these transactions,” PTI quoted him as saying.
In his statement to both Houses, Dr. Singh extended this denial to cover the entire government and the party, declaring that he “absolutely and firmly” rejected the allegation that the offence of bribery was committed. Many of the persons referred to in those reports have “stoutly denied the veracity of the contents.”
The allegation was investigated by a committee constituted by the 14th Lok Sabha and it concluded that there was “insufficient evidence to draw any conclusion of bribery.”
Stating that he was disappointed that the Opposition had forgotten the events subsequent to the confidence vote, Dr. Singh cited the 2009 election results as proof that people had rejected the allegations. “In that election, the Opposition parties repeated their allegations of bribery in the trust vote. How did the people respond to those allegations? The principal Opposition party, which had 138 seats in the 14th Lok Sabha, was reduced to 116 seats in the 15th Lok Sabha. The Left parties, how is that their tally was reduced from 59 to 24? It is the Congress party alone which increased its tally from 145 to 206, an increase of 61 seats,” he said, amid thumping of desks by his party members.
Dr. Singh termed unfortunate the Opposition continuing to raise old charges that were debated, discussed and rejected by people. “It is most surprising that speculative, unverified and unverifiable communication should be given dignity and seized upon by the Opposition parties to revive old charges that have been soundly rejected.” The UPA-I government always enjoyed the confidence of people and the 14th Lok Sabha and the UPA-II government too enjoyed the confidence of the 15th Lok Sabha and people.