PM to make statement on Wiki expose, Lok Sabha adjourned

PM to make statement on Wiki expose, Lok Sabha adjourned

The announcement was made by Parliamentary Affairs Minister P.K. Bansal in the Lok Sabha amid noisy protests by opposition MPs, leading to Speaker Meira Kumar adjourning the house till 2 p.m.

But trouble had begun in the morning itself, as soon as the house met for the day. Leader of Opposition Sushma Swaraj drew the attention of the government to the expose and asked that the prime minister clarify his stance on the veracity of the report.

Meira Kumar had called Sushma Swaraj to move a motion calling attention of the External Affairs Minister S.M. Krishna to the plight of Indian fishermen due to frequent attacks by the Sri Lankan Navy. Instead, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader talked about the WikiLeaks episode, prompting Bansal to protest, saying the trust vote issue was not relevant to her motion.

She refused to let the house continue with the day’s business unless the prime minister made his position clear on the matter. Sushma Swaraj was supported in her demand by her colleague, senior BJP leader L.K. Advani.

Soon after, BJP MPs rushed towards the speaker’s podium raising slogans, forcing Meira Kumar to adjourn the house for an hour. The unrest continued even after the house met, forcing another adjournment till 2 p.m.

On Thursday, the opposition had forced three adjournments of the house proceedings demanding the resignation of the UPA government over the WikiLeaks expose on alleged payoffs to MPs to win the trust vote on July 22, 2008. A united opposition that included the BJP and the Left parties had walked out of the house led by Sushma Swaraj, allowing a smooth passing of the demands for grants of various ministries at one go using the guillotine provision.

The diplomatic cables leaked on WikiLeaks and published by The Hindu newspaper Thursday purportedly say that payoffs had been made to MPs to ensure a majority for the Congress-led government in the confidence vote following differences over the India-US nuclear deal.

Nachiketa Kapur, described as a political aide of Congress leader Satish Sharma, is quoted in the leaked cables as saying that a fund of Rs.50 crore had been formed to pay MPs. According to the leaked cable: "Sharma's political aide mentioned to an embassy staff member in an aside on July 16 that Ajit Singh's (Rashtriya Lok Dal) RLD had been paid Rs.10 crore for each of their four MPs to support the government."

"Kapur showed the embassy employee two chests containing cash and said that around Rs.50-60 crore was lying around the house for use as pay-offs."