Opposition wants Manmohan to quit

Opposition wants Manmohan to quit

Cash-for-vote: Both Houses of Parliament adjourned over WikiLeaks revelations

Though the opposition parties have over the past few months been targeting the government for alleged irregularities committed during its previous term, it is the first time they are demanding the PM’s resignation.

Both Houses of Parliament were adjourned repeatedly as sparks flew between the Opposition and treasury benches. The BJP-led Opposition also staged a walkout from the Lok Sabha before the House approved the demands for grants for various ministries of the government for 2011-12.

The government sought to defend itself by arguing that the voting on the confidence motion had in fact taken place during the tenure of the 14th Lok Sabha. A new Lok Sabha had been constituted after the parliamentary elections in 2009.

“The government of the day is only responsible to the 15th Lok Sabha,” Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee said.

He said the government could not confirm or deny the veracity of the WikiLeaks’ revelation, as the cable leaked by the whistleblower website had apparently been sent from the American Embassy in New Delhi to the US Department of State in Washington.

“Correspondence between a sovereign government and its mission enjoys diplomatic immunity. There is no question of denying or confirming,” he said in the Rajya Sabha.
A visibly angry Mukherjee asked Leader of Opposition in the Rajya Sabha Arun Jaitley, who is an eminent lawyer, if the WikiLeaks’ so called expose could be proved in a court of law.

Jaitley led the Opposition’s tirade against the government in the Upper House. He referred to the WikiLeaks’ revelation that an aide of Congress leader and Rajya Sabha MP Satish Sharma had shown an official of the US Embassy in New Delhi two chests stuffed with cash worth Rs 50-60 crore the ruling party had kept to bribe the MPs to vote for the government.

“This government survived on the strength of a political sin,” Jaitley said in the Rajya Sabha. “This (the revelation by WikiLeaks) is a humongous indictment of the way the government has functioned,” said CPM leader Sitaram Yechury.

In the Lok Sabha, BJP veteran and Leader of Opposition, Sushma Swaraj, and CPI veteran Gurudas Dasgupta demanded that the PM should make a statement in the House and resign.

Samajwadi Party’s Mulayam Singh Yadav also demanded discussion on the issue to save his party from being maligned, as it had also supported the UPA government in the trust vote.

The WikiLeaks revealed a cable sent by the then Charge d’Affaires in the American Embassy in New Delhi, Steven White, to the US Department of State on July 17, 2008.
White wrote that the US Embassy’s political counsellor had met Sharma, who had told him that he and others in the Congress were working hard to ensure that the UPA government won the trust vote and approaches were being made to the BJP and Shiromani Akali Dal MPs.

Sharma, a former petroleum minister, is a Gandhi family loyalist.
According to the leaked cable, Nachiketa Kapur, who was referred to as an aide of Sharma, told the US Embassy official that Rs 10 crore had been paid to each of the four MPs of Ajit Singh’s Rashtriya Lok Dal to ensure their support to the government.