'Cash-for-votes sting was at BJP's behest'

 The weekly magazine in a report here claimed that the sting operation was conducted allegedly to entrap the Congress and Samajwadi Party leaders. The report alluded to a conversation with Siddhartha Gautam, the reporter, who conducted the sting operation for CNN IBN news channel, and telephonic call records of the parliamentarians concerned to back its claim.

“But according to Gautam, and the phone records in Tehelka’s possession…, It was the BJP MPs and Suhail Hindustani, a BJP activist, who were scanning the market for buyers that night to somehow pull off their sting operation before the nuclear vote,” the report said. It apparently put the BJP and other opposition parties on the defensive. The magazine alleged that the accuser— the BJP— was itself guilty of wrongdoing. “In fact, the story of the 2008 cash-for-votes scandal is the story of a trap, a rip, and a cover-up,” it said. The reporter allegedly told the magazine that the sting operation began after he was told by his office to call senior BJP leaders Arun Jaitley and Sudheendra Kulkarni.

The weekly gave details of how the television channel crew had met BJP MPs - Ashok Argal and Faggan Singh Kulaste and Mahavir Bhagoda- who waved the wads of notes in Lok Sabha, and middleman Suhail Hindustani at Kulkarni’s house and then went to the Le Meridien hotel here to make an abortive bid to record Congress leader Ahmed Patel allegedly offering money to them a day before the trust vote.

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