'Money in House shocked nation

'Money in House shocked nation

The troika came to the well of the House and took out wads of currency from two bags and placed them on the table of the Secretary-General, alleging that the money — Rs 1 crore in total — had been given to one of them at the behest of Samajwadi Party leader Amar Singh to abstain from voting on the confidence motion and thus save the United Progressive Alliance government. It had triggered uproar in the LS, but later in the evening the government had won the trust vote.

Nearly three years later, the cash-for-vote scam returned to haunt the Congress-led UPA government, thanks to the WikiLeaks’ expose of a classified diplomatic cable sent from the American Embassy in New Delhi to the US Department of State on July 17, 2008, just a few days ahead of the trial of strength in the LS.

It brought back under focus the report of the committee that the then Speaker Somnath Chatterjee had constituted to probe into the cash-for-vote scandal.
The seven-member-committee headed by Congress MP from Andhra Pradesh V Kishore Chandra Deo submitted the report to the Speaker on December 15, 2008, suggesting that the money trail be probed by an appropriate investigating agency.
“My report is not yet a closed chapter. I had suggested further probe by investigating agencies,” Deo told journalists on Thursday.

Deo’s report had purportedly given a clean chit to Amar Singh and Congress president Sonia Gandhi’s political secretary Ahmed Patel.

Chatterjee had forwarded the report to the Ministry of Home Affairs, which had sent it to the Delhi Police asking it to conduct an enquiry. The Delhi Police had registered a case and a team headed by Rajendra Bakshi, the then Assistant Commissioner of Police of its Interstate Crime Cell, had started a probe into it. The wads of currency notes had been handed over to Delhi Police in the last week of January 2009.

But nothing was heard about the case since then. The Congress-led UPA later won the parliamentary elections of 2009 and retained power with what then appeared as more comfortable majority in the newly-constituted 15th Lok Sabha.

Deo said that the brief of the committee had just been to investigate the content of the tapes of a sting operation carried out by a TV channel. The tapes had been given to the committee by Chatterjee, who had received it from the TV channel.

“It is based on these tapes that I conducted my inquiry. Our mandate was to just go into whatever those tapes gave us. We need further investigation by an appropriate investigative agency,” he said.

“The parliamentary committee is not an investigating agency. Our brief was to find out from these tapes whether money was paid to the MPs or not. Based on the evidence, we submitted our report. The parliamentary committee doesn’t have the inputs and wherewithal the professional investigative agencies have,” he added.