Cash for vote scam.
The cash-for-votes scandal was an Indian political scandal allegedly masterminded by then Opposition Party Bharatiya Janata Party politician Sudheendra Kulkarni in which the United Progressive Alliance, the majority-holding parliamentary-party alliance of India led by Sonia Gandhi, allegedly bribed Bhartiya Janta Party MPs in order to survive a confidence vote on 22 July 2008. The vote in the Lok Sabha arose after the Communist Party of India (Marxist)-led Left Front withdrew support from the government, who wanted to pursue an Indo-US nuclear deal.
A Delhi court on Thursday put 11 former members of Parliament on trial for the 2005 cash-for-query scam. Special Judge Kiran Bansal framed graft and criminal conspiracy charges against the MPs. The trial will begin from January 12.
A sting operation by online news site Cobra post that aired on a private TV channel on December 12, 2005, showed the 11 MPs accepting cash in exchange for raising questions in the Parliament.
Out of the 11 MPs accused in the case, six were from the BJP, three from BSP, and one each from the RJD and Congress. They were Y G Mahajan (BJP), Chhatarpal Singh Lodha (BJP), Anna Saheb M K Patil (BJP), Manoj Kumar (RJD), Chandra Pratap Singh (BJP), Ram Sewak Singh (Congress), Narender Kumar Kushwaha (BSP), Pradeep Gandhi (BJP), Suresh Chandel (BJP), Lal Chandra Kol (BSP) and Raja Rampal (BSP). The Lok Sabha expelled 10 members, while Lodha, who was the sole Rajya Sabha member, was also expelled.
On December 24, 2005, the Parliament voted to expel the 11 MPs in a historic vote. Pranab Mukherjee, the leader of the house at the time, introduced a resolution asking for expulsion of the members while then Prime Minister Manmohan Singh did the same in Rajya Sabha.
While all parties had clamoured for action against the accused MPs, the BJP walked out of the vote saying it was a ‘kangaroo court’. BJP senior leader LK Advani, who was leader of the Opposition at the time, said that while what the MPs had done was corruption, but “more than that it was stupidity” and the punishment of expulsion was too harsh.
In January 2007, a Supreme Court verdict upheld the Parliament’s decision to expel the MPs. The MPs had filed a petition challenging their expulsion, which ignited a debate whether the court could interfere in Parliament procedures.
The Delhi High Court in 2007 directed the Delhi Police to book people involved in the offence. Two cobra post journalists, Aniruddha Bahal and Suhasini Raj, were also named in the chargesheet for abetting the offence under the Prevention of Corruption Act, but the case against them was later quashed, with the court ruling that no one could be prosecuted for carrying out sting operations.
The cash-for-vote scam rocked both the houses of parliament on Thursday after senior BJP leader L.K. Advani challenged the Government to arrest him in connection with the 2008 scandal. Speaking in the Lok Sabha, the BJP Parliamentary Party chief said that if the two BJP MPs are guilty in the cash-for-votes scam, then he should also be arrested.
Advani said that he was aware of a sting BJP conducted in 2008 to expose the UPA’s willingness to buy support to survive a trust vote.
Both the Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha had to be adjourned as the BJP pressed for the suspension of the Question Hour and demanded immediate discussion on the issue. While the Lok Sabha was adjourned till noon, the Rajya Sabha was adjourned till 12:30 PM after uproar over the scam.
Advani gave a notice for suspension of Question Hour in the Lok Sabha to discuss the new developments in the case. A similar notice was given in the Rajya Sabha by BJP member Ravi Shankar Prasad. It may be recalled that BJP MPs, Faggan Singh Kulaste and Mahavir Singh Bhagora, along with former Samajwadi Party leader Amar Singh were on Tuesday sent to judicial custody in the cash-for-votes scam.
Advani’s former aide Sudheendra Kulkarni, who has also been charge sheeted in the case, has been ordered to appear in court on September 19. The BJP and other Opposition parties have questioned as to why the Congress-led UPA government, which was the prime beneficiary in the cash-for-votes scam, has not been investigated.
With the onset of political stability and the introduction of universal adult suffrage, the votes had been the greatest liability offered to people of the country to choose their own government. But amidst the growing greed of power, the authenticity of casting of votes within the country and within the parliament had been a far cry. The cash for vote scam is one such type of scam, gained notion now-days, revealing the bitter secrets of the chosen one’s within the parliament.
The elected members of the parliament played a key role in bringing out new reforms and bills that would help the nation and the people of the nation to progress and develop. But seeing the today’s world scenario ,where money and politics go hand-in-hand, this power of the members has opened a door for outside gratifications for his valuable vote in favour of a particular party. The cash for vote scam reveals the involvement of Member of Parliament in changing their votes on the US-India Nuclear deal, thereby bringing in the ambiguity over its authenticity.
The involvement of senior samajwadi party leader Amar Singh and MP’s of Bhartiya Janta Party shows that the fixture on the deal had been on a very high level than thought. The US-India Nuclear deal is one of the important deals between India and US paving way for future development, thus an unbiased voting would have brought in a clear state of response. But the scam brought in an enigma among the members thus making the worst out of the deal, out of which the most can be make out.
The cash for vote scam also put forward the weakened disciplinary acts against the tormenters of democracy and showcases the line of breakage of trust among the members of the same party leading towards a huge political upheaval, showing clear signs of anarchy onset in the country. As the parties are facing a growing distrust from people, bringing in the need for a stable and fare government. A raging behaviour has started to grow up among the people of the country giving a clear sign of cutting off such types of scams.
In a huge relief to former Samajwadi Party leader Amar Singh, L K Advani’s ex-aide Sudheendra Kulkarni and three BJP leaders including two MPs, a Court here today gave a clean chit to them in the 2008 cash-for-vote scam, saying facts on record do not create sufficient grounds for proceeding against them.
While discharging Kulkarni, BJP leaders Ashok Argal, Faggan Singh Kulaste (sitting MPs), former BJP MP Mahabir Singh Bhagora, and party activist Sohail Hindustani, the court said they had “the intention to expose horse was trading” which was corroborated by the fact that currency notes were taken to Parliament House and tabled to be viewed by the entire nation.
However, of the 7 accused, only one, Amar Singh’s former aide Sanjeev Saxena was ordered to be proceeded against under section 12 of Prevention of Corruption Act (abetment of offence relating to illegal gratification to a public servant). He was discharged of criminal conspiracy.
The cash-for-vote scam pertains to the BJP MPs displaying wads of currency notes during the July 22, 2008 trust vote in the Lok Sabha after the Left Front withdrew its support to UPA-I government on the issue Of Indo-US nuclear deal.
While Singh and Kulkarni spent 49 and 52 days respectively in jail before they were granted bail, Kulaste, Bhagora and Hindustani spent two-three months in jail. Argal was granted anticipatory bail.
“…on study of record on the case and the documents submitted and after hearing the parties, this court has come to an opinion that facts that have emerged on record do not create sufficient grounds for proceeding against Sudheendra Kulkarni, Sohail Hindustani, Faggan Singh Kulaste, Mahabir Singh Bhagora, Amar Singh and Ashok Argal.
“They are accordingly discharged of all the offences,” Special Judge Narottam Kaushal said while absolving them of charges of criminal conspiracy and various provisions of the Prevention of Corruption Act.