New Delhi, March 23 (IANS) Home Minister P. Chidambaram Wednesday rubbished the opposition’s cash-for-vote bribery allegations and said investigations in the case were still on.
Participating in a discussion on Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s statement on the alleged effort to buy votes during the confidence vote that hit parliament in 2008, Chidambaram said the prime minister was right when he said the parliamentary committee probing the case had no conclusive evidence.
“There were no definitive conclusions by the committee,” Chidambaram said.
“This committee did not reach any definitive conclusion of bribe giving or bribe taking; they said there is insufficient evidence, no definitive conclusion can be drawn, matter must be investigated. We are investigating the matter,” the home minister said.
“An FIR has been registered. Investigation will be completed shortly, (it is) entirely wrong to say the matter is not being investigated,” he said.
The home minister said the probe will also cover the allegations that the cash-for-votes sting operation was staged by the opposition.
“There are allegations in the public domain that what was done in July 2008 was not an independent journalistic exercise,” he said, referring to the sting operation related to the scandal.
A report by Tehelka news magazine alleged that the sting operation was a trap plotted by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).
“While the police investigate the evidences they have gathered, and the evidences produced by the committee, I am sure the latest allegations will also be inquired into to see what is true,” Chidambaram said.
Reacting to this, Leader of Opposition Arun Jaitley said there was a conflict of interest as Chidambaram was the home minister and was relying on a “cover-up operation”.
“He is kind enough to tell us a crime has been allegedly committed, that investigation is on, what we are suggesting is that there is a clear conflict in two roles. As home minister, the Delhi Police reports to him, what he is now relying on is a cover-up operation. There is clear conflict in your two positions,” Jaitley said.
Chidambaram said that while the Congress was always in majority, the BJP was making “desperate attempts to convert majority in minority”.
Earlier, while initiating the debate, Jaitley accused the government of buying members during the 2008 confidence vote on the Indo-US nuclear deal.
The leader of opposition said the revelations of the WikiLeaks were verifiable.
“If the government of India wants to verify and you have honesty of purpose, they are verifiable because some of the evidences are very strong evidence in a criminal case of bribe giver,” Jaitley said.
He said that legal agreements were in place between India and the US, and through those routes, the comments could be verified.
“We have legal systems in place, you don’t escape from crime because a witness has crossed over. There are systems, it can be verified. On the contrary, you say it’s unverified and unverifiable,” Jaitley said, attacking the prime minister who in a statement to the two houses earlier said that the cables were unverifiable.
He alleged that the shortfall in members during the 2008 trust vote was covered by “retail purchase of parliamentarians”